The Front Runner Review

The Front Runner

I don’t really follow, or know very much about American politics. Trying to cope with whatever Brexit nonsense is happening here in the UK on a daily basis is more than enough for me, so aside from face palming at whatever rubbish Donald Trump is currently spewing on Twitter, I’m fairly oblivious to it all. Back in 1988, I would have more likely been playing Super Mario World, than taking interest in former Colorado senator Gary Hart, who became the front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. So why then would I be interested in watching a movie about him and the scandal he became involved in so close to achieving his dream of presidency? Well, when the movie stars versatile man of the moment Hugh Jackman as Gary Hart, along with another two of my favourite actors (Vera Farmiga and J.K. Simmons), then I’m more than happy to give it a shot!

The movie opens with Hart currently riding high, with only three weeks to go until the nomination. He’s a very charismatic man, intelligent, and clearly striking a chord with the voters. His path to the White House seems clear and certain. But, as the opening on-screen titles remind us, a lot can happen in three weeks…

Those three weeks, for the most part, run pretty smoothly, giving us a chance to get to know Hart and the vast number of supporting characters as the campaign progresses through its final stages. J.K. Simmons is campaign manager Bill Dixon, brilliant and often hilarious in every scene he’s in. Vera Farmiga plays Harts wife Lee, slightly underused in the role of supportive wife placed in a difficult position. Elsewhere, there are plenty of strong supporting characters, both throughout the campaign team and within the news teams that are tasked with following Hart around the country. One of those reporters eventually gets wind of a potential story, although he initially doesn’t believe the young nervous girl phoning his office one night, telling him about her friend who is due to go and meet with Hart at the weekend. A last minute change in Harts schedule for the weekend leads the reporter to suspect there may be some truth to the phone call and he follows up on the lead, staking out Harts townhouse in a bid to get some dirt on him.

When the dirt does start to come out, Hart attempts to brush it aside. We’ve already seen what a private man he is, baffled as to why anyone would want to see him posing for photos with his family in People magazine. He believes that his policies and the politician that he is are all that matters, and that the public aren’t interested in his private life at all, so all of this will just blow over. His staff rally round to try and contain the story and work out what to do with the woman involved in the scandal, while Harts wife and daughter deal with the fallout back home. All the while, the reporters and TV are having a field day. Every part of the story is interesting, and the characters involved are all superb. What always helps a movie like this though is when it is based on true events and what helps it even more is the fantastic cast, who all do a brilliant job at making this a very enjoyable movie.

Board Rating 4