Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Movie with Abe: The Front Runner

The Front Runner
Directed by Jason Reitman
Released November 6, 2018

The way that news is both reported and consumed has changed drastically over the years. The notion of getting a newspaper with a breaking headline or watching a live news report being the primary way of digesting information is something that just doesn’t exist in the same way anymore. While there is still a lifespan of any story that may eventually die and fade out of the public eye, the idea of a news cycle has changed completely. The manner in which news is released and disseminated has had exponential effects on much of society.

After a solid effort in the 1984 election, Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman) announces his intention to run for president in 1988. Polling far ahead of other candidates, Hart enjoys very positive press and a great relationship with the journalists that travel with his campaign. When a journalist receives a tip that the married Hart may be having an affair, everything becomes about a potential moral stain on this extraordinarily likeable candidate, which threatens to derail his campaign and distract from all that he hopes to accomplish.

It’s astonishing to think that, only a decade after this, the president would confess to having an affair in office and finish out his term, and nearly twenty years after that, numerous accusations of extramarital activity and a damning released audio recording of heinous language about women wouldn’t deter the latest candidate from being elected to that office. There should be many comparisons made between this film and last year’s “The Post,” depicting an era in which journalism looked completely different but in which civility was recognizable and paramount.

This film manages to paint Hart as a man so driven by his desire to change the country that he wasn’t prepared to let anything get in the way of that message. The actions that killed his campaign may not be commendable, but his steadfast belief in private life being kept private is something so far lost in today’s era that stands as a firm recommender of Hart’s character. This presentation of his story is at times fast-paced, as if it was written by Aaron Sorkin, and at others feels like it’s not headed anywhere fast. Jackman is a fitting choice to play Hart, passionate until the end, and the standouts of the crowded supporting cast are Molly Ephraim, as Hart’s lone female senior campaign worker, and J.K. Simmons as his campaign manager. For those who don’t know this story, it may be interesting, but there’s little about this film that feels transformative or urgent, which proves disappointing considering the timing of its release on Election Day.


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