During the 1988 run for office in America, there were many candidates who were vying for the seat of the Presidency of America and The Front Runner was Gary Hart.
Starring Hugh Jackman The Front Runner follows Gary Hart, an articulate handsome politician running for office. He seems like the perfect candidate for the presidency. The press loves him, he’s a caring and understanding father and a warm husband. From the word go he is the front-runner. He’s the man to beat to the White House.
Everybody is going through the motions really. There is nothing that can stop him but as the film states at the offset, “A lot can happen in three weeks”.
As the film unfolds we the audience learn that there is more than meets the eye to Gary Hart and not all of it is stars and stripes. He’s surprisingly cagey when it comes to his private life and when journalists dive a little deeper they learn he is having dalliances with other women.
The Front Runner is a fascinating film with a lot of great ideas. It deals with the issue of power and how men have been mistreating it. Even someone like Gary Hart who is honestly one of the most intelligent and professional politicians I’ve ever heard of cannot understand what he does when he betrays those he loves.
He doesn’t understand the destruction he leaves in his wake. How the women’s lives he disrupts, one in particular covered over the course of the events of the film, are irrevocably changed for the worst.
The character of Gary Hart is a confounding one. Brought to brilliant life by Jackman. Hart is a charming individual and when he speaks you listen. He’s articulate forward thinking and understands the issues. This is confusing however due to how naive he is. He’s a man who wishes to become the President of the United States of America and he doesn’t seem to understand that he will have to give up certain liberties to achieve such a lofty goal.
And when confronted with the realisation of the consequences of his sins he is perplexed that this should affect his chances after all for all he’s concerned these have no bearings on whether he’s a good president or not.
The story of The Front Runner is brilliant and with Jackman and the supporting cast working their asses off you get pulled into the tangled webs of the ’80’s political scene. J.K. Simmons, Alfred Molina, and Vera Farmiga are particular highlights.
This is a complex issue and in today’s world it brings up a lot of question after your first initial watch. The film portrays the struggle that the journalists of the time had when dealing with the more seedy issues of the political race as well as the issues Hart had to deal with trying to run a campaign while dealing with something that he sees as a non-issue.
It’s quite murky and when you walk out of the cinema you’ll be trying to dissect all the ins and outs of The Front Runner. If there were any issues I would have liked further character exploration to show why Hart did what he did to his loving wife. It’s something of a nitpick but it would have further explained what was going through Hart’s mind.
The Front Runner is a great film filled with skillful performances and a sharp story. A must see this awards season.