Good men, bad behaviour, complicated politics and engrossing drama: the elements that define the everyday strain of human relations are employed here to offer an audience entertainment. The moral burden is often waived in favour of the curiosity of the controversy at play. The logic seems to entail that if it mattered enough to make headlines, it has a good enough reason to be seen on an enormous screen. Should it matter whose fault it really was?
Hugh Jackman plays Hart, the man everyone wanted to love, until a couple of journalists changed the game forever. The Miami Herald followed Hart in the lead-up to the campaign, and broke the news of a potential relationship with Rice. Casting Jackman is a smart move, given how he managed to make the king of human exploitation, PT Barnum, feel like a flawed, but ultimately loveable, champion of misfits in The Greatest Showman. This gives his Hart a softer edge, a politician who made mistakes, but ultimately, must have a heart.
This isn't the Donna Rice story: Sara Paxton plays a limited woman who suffered at the hands of an irresponsible man
The problem with The Front Runner lies in the importance given to responsibility – Hart’s, the media’s, even Donna’s. Its dominating message seems to happily sit in stasis without condemning anyone for what happened. The characters ask questions about who is responsible and why emotional dynamics matter, but the filmmaker’s fighting argument feels invisible. The film reflects on the moment personal and professional politics became irrevocably intertwined, fails to question what’s really so harmful about it.
Hugh Jackman met with Gary Hart to prepare for this role – how would you let an actor dramatise your life if he wasn’t going to make you look acceptable and maybe even forgivable? After the news broke, Hart withdrew from the race – but then reentered only three months later. ‘Let’s let the people decide!’, he said. He didn’t win, but now, over thirty years later, Hart is still married and back in the spotlight again. Funnily enough, there’s no film about Rice yet.
The words ‘A lot can happen in three weeks’ flash up on screen at the beginning of the film, announcing the professional downfall that is about to unfold. You can go on a nice holiday in three weeks. You could take an intensive driving course. You could change a woman’s life and damage her emotional wellbeing, permanently. Or, you could start shooting a movie.
|What||The Front Runner film review|
11 Jan 19 – 11 Jan 20, TIMES VARY
|Price||£ determined by cinemas|
|Website||Click here for more information|