Back in 1988 when Democratic senator, Gary Hart had to forfeit his lead in the Presidential race due to an extra-marital impropriety, it was big, big news; in today’s hotbed of scandals, it might barely raise a tweet.
That’s part of the problem with The Front Runner – it focuses on telling a story which is no longer compelling at the expense of exploring characters and issues involved. The film itself is well made with great cinematography, a good script and convincing performances. Hugh Jackman as Gary Hart, however, lacks emotional range and is too incredulously righteous. His wife in the film, Vera Farmiga, is interesting and empathetic despite the little screen time she’s given. J.K.Simmons has a commanding presence as campaign manager Bill Dixon. Mamoudou Athie is a young journalist with scruples that are slowly eroded, but he’s not given enough performance space to make this as significant as it could have been. The short scenes between Molly Ephraim as Irene and Sara Paxton as Donna Rice prove there were more intriguing stories that were sidelined for the sake of a fairly conventional, testosterone-fuelled political/newsroom drama.
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich