The year was 1988. Vice-President George H. Bush was running for President against Democratic incumbent Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts. Gary Hart, a idealistic Senator from Colorado, was favored to be the nominee for the Democratic Party in the 1988 Presidential race. He was ‘The Front Runner.‘ Unfortunately, like so many before and after, Hart would never have the opportunity to accept his party’s nomination due to an affair scandal that surfaced with Donna Rice aboard a yacht called ‘Monkey Business.’ A week later he was out of the race after that news broke. Many would consider this moment the beginning of what we now see as the #MeToo movement. A powerful politician abusing his power to gain the most influential office in the world – President of The United States.
Directed by Jason Reitman and written by former political journalist Matt Bai, Jay Carson and Reitman, The Front Runner gives a Birdseye view of a campaign from the inside out right before the shit hits the fan…literally. Every performance in the film is rock solid. Hugh Jackman is Gary Hart and displaying a performance audiences will be surprised to see. Jackman has made audiences fall in love with him via Broadway and the X-Men franchise, but his portrayal of Gary Hart is transformationally intriguing. Vera Farmiga as Hart’s devoted wife (Lee Hart) is strong-willed, captivating and never falls prey to being a victim of circumstances. Oscar winner J.K. Simmons as Bill Dixon will break your heart and piss you off all at the same time.
Reitman’s comedic sensibility as a writer provides us with witty, fast-paced dialogue in the midst of watching what literally was our first tabloid candidate for office. Sure, others had scandals, but the world had a different temperature then. Literally, no one ever addressed the elephant in the room unless forced to do so, Living in an age where we all have a computer at our fingertips leaves little margin for error, yet somehow we still elected a man who did far worse than Gary Hart which makes The Front Runner right on time.
Monica Lewinksy has been demonized for years after her affair with former President Clinton. We literally just watched Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford get treated as though “she” were on trial and mocked by our current POTUS. Donna Rice is now 60 years-old and a Grandma. No matter what any of these women say or do for the rest of their lives, society will continue to brand them with a Scarlett letter. Its unfortunate, unfair and unnecessary. The most powerful moment for me was when a female Hart aide stated, “This is never going to be over for her.”
Produced by Columbia Pictures and Bron Studios, The Front Runner will hit theatres on November 21.