Film review: The Front Runner
The true story of American Senator Gary Hart’s failed 1988 presidential campaign, which is derailed following the revelation of a scandalous love affair.
It’s not often you see people walk out of a free movie. Seldom is it that you see multiple groups of people walk out. But that’s exactly what happened at the preview screening of The Front Runner.
While it’s impossible to know their reasons for leaving, I feel it could fall into one of two camps. One, a disinterest in American politics or, two, The Front Runner is a subpar film that never gets out of first gear.
I fall in the latter category and while I did watch the entire film, I would be lying if I said I didn’t contemplate leaving at several points.
The Front Runner never seemed to find its footing and throughout you may find yourself wondering when the drama and the performances critics raved about will begin.
The film is the mild, to say the least. Moments of intense conflict, such as the confrontation between Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman) and his wife Lee Hart (Vera Farmiga) after his scandalous love affair is revealed, played out as if the couple were arguing over where to go for dinner.
Even the film’s crowning moments of Hart confronting the media after the press discovers his affairs comes across with the same level of interest as an amateur debate night.
The film touches on – or rather dances around – issues of privacy, what is newsworthy and whether tabloid news is still news. But, unfortunately, The Front Runner never lingers long enough to say anything meaningful on the subject matter.
The all-star cast comprising Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J. K. Simmons and Alfred Molina are fine in their respective roles, but never elevate to the heights we have seen them reach in other films or do enough to keep the audience invested.
Overall, the film is sorely missing the drama which is a critical component of any political drama. The script is also missing the expert wordplay that would keep most audiences hooked. My recommendation would be to save your time and focus on the political and journalism films listed in the ‘If you liked the movie, try’ section below.
Final verdict: 2/5
Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J. K. Simmons, Alfred Molina.
If you liked the movie, try:
Spotlight, The Post, The Ides of March, Vice, Frost/Nixon and All the President’s Men.