Five Reasons You’ll Love It - January 14, 2019

The Front Runner: Five Reasons You'll Love It
by James
James
by James hmv London, Bio "Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor, hmv.com

The Front Runner: Five Reasons You'll Love It

For much of the last decade, Hugh Jackman's performances on the big screen have been dominated by his portrayals of Wolverine, punctuated by occasional musical turns in the likes of Les Misérables and The Greatest Showman, but his latest outing in cinemas offers something very different.

Jackman's latest starring role is in Jason Reitman's new film The Front Runner, a political drama set in the 1980s which documents the rise and spectacular fall of US Senator and one-time Presidential hopeful Gary Hart, a favourite for the Democratic presidential nomination whose reputation as a womaniser saw him lose a 12-point lead in the Presidential race and ultimately put an end to his political ambitions.

Based on Matt Bai's book All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid, Reitman's new film stars Jackman in the role of Gary Hart alongside an impressive cast which includes Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons, Alfred Molina and Kevin Pollak.

With the film in cinemas now we caught a screening and rounded up five of the best things about The Front Runner...

 

Hugh Jackman is on top form...

Not that we can even remember the last time Hugh Jackman turned in an iffy performance, but after years pumped-up action as Wolverine and his showstopping turn in The Greatest Showman, it's refreshing to see Jackman playing the lead in a serious drama and he carries it with all the skill you'd expect. His portrayal of Gary Hart captures both the charm that saw him rise to popularity, and the combination of naivety and arrogance that proves to be his downfall.

 

It's exceptionally well cast...

There probably aren't too many journalists who can say they've been portrayed on the big screen, and even fewer who can say this has happened more than once, but the staff at The Washington Post during the 1970s and early 1980s occupy a unique point in political history.

It's a period that has seen the likes of Bob Woodward and Ben Bradlee being played by some big names, including Tom Hanks and Robert Redford. Even so, the casting here feels exceptionally well-judged, with Alfred Molina and Spencer Garrett delivering impressive performances. The rest of the supporting cast is excellent too, not least JK Simmons in the role of Hart's long-suffering campaign manager.

 

It offers a window into American politics not often seen outside of the country...

For non-Americans especially, the 1980s are often thought of as 'the Reagan years' as far as US politics goes, and it was often America's relationship with the former Soviet Union that made the headlines across the globe.

America's domestic politics were a lot less visible on the world stage and here you not only get the sense that Reagan's approach was far from universally supported, but you also get a picture of what an alternative America might have been like under the competing vision of the Democrats.

 

It shows how much political campaigning has changed over the last 30 years...

There's a moment of palpable shock amongst Hart's team when it emerges that somebody – possibly former CIA chief and potential Presidential rival George H.W. Bush – has paid a photographer to capture Hart's marital indiscretions, but if that seems incredibly naïve in 2018 it just goes to show how the kind of 'dirty tricks' that were beginning to emerge at that time have become so commonplace today. There's no defending Hart's actions, of course, but it's hard to imagine his actions even registering among the kind of revelations that emerge almost weekly from Donal Trump's White House.

 

It captures a turning point for the media's political coverage...

As much as The Front Runner is a story about how Hart's womanising proves to be his undoing, the film also captures a moment in time when the tone of political coverage was beginning to change. It's difficult to feel any real sympathy for Hart under the circumstances, especially since it's his family who seem to bear the brunt of the invasive media coverage, but it's fascinating – and depressing – to watch a newspaper like The Washington Post wrestling with the idea that sensationalist, tabloid-style reporting is the way to keep readers interested.

 

 

The Front Runner is in cinemas now.

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