The Front Run­ner

The Guardian Weekly - - Culture - Ben­jamin Lee

Dir: Ja­son Reit­man

★★★★☆

In Ja­son Reit­man’s new film The Front Run­ner, he takes us back to 1988 as US sen­a­tor Gary Hart, played by Hugh Jack­man, seemed like a no brainer for the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion. He was hand­some, charm­ing, in­tel­li­gent and his rel­a­tive youth (25 years younger than sit­ting pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan) made him pop­u­lar with younger vot­ers. But he was also a pri­vate man, un­easy when at­ten­tion moved away from his po­ten­tial poli­cies and on to his per­sonal life. He didn’t see how pos­ing with his wife and daugh­ter on the front of Peo­ple mag­a­zine would ben­e­fit him as a politi­cian.

The irony of be­ing so guarded was that jour­nal­ists were even more ea­ger to find out about his life be­hind closed doors and not with­out rea­son. For a while, whis­pers of in­fi­delity had fol­lowed Hart. As ru­mours turned into a le­git­i­mate, al­beit rushed and im­prop­erly han­dled, story, Hart was forced to fi­nally open up to the pub­lic.

With a script co-writ­ten by Reit­man, pol­icy ad­viser Jay Car­son and jour­nal­ist Matt Bai, there’s an au­then­tic­ity un­der­pin­ning the por­trayal of events in The Front Run­ner that lifts it above the less-than-ground­break­ing set-up. We’ve seen drama­tised sto­ries of cheat­ing politi­cians a great many times but there’s a re­fresh­ing lack of sen­sa­tion­al­ism, given the writ­ing team, and events feel pre­sented truth­fully but also with style.

Re­leased in the US last Novem­ber; on gen­eral re­lease in Europe and Aus­tralia this month

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