Instagram post here. Tweet there. These days, we’re online 24/7 and we love sharing our personal life for the sake of likes, retweets, and comments. While we all know that once it’s out there, we can never take it back, we don’t seem to care about privacy, from us and from others, and when private lives meet the public ones, things can get out of hand rapidly, especially when you’re an acclaimed public figure.
With his latest movie, director Jason Reitman (“Tully”, “Up in the Air”) proves that this phenomenon isn’t only from the 21st Century. “The Front Runner” brings the remarkable and well-known story of the American politician Gary Hart to the big screen and makes us aware again that the privacy law is easily violated just for sensation.
Based on the book “All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid”, written by political columnist Matt Bai, “The Front Runner” tells the story of Hart (Hugh Jackman), who is running for president during the 1988 elections. Three weeks before the elections, he rules in almost every state and with a professional and dedicated political support, such as the presidential campaign manager and friend Bill Dixon (J.K. Simmons) and John B. Emerson (Tommy Dewey), nothing can seem to get in the way of his first term as president. Fans want his autograph and picture while the press is fighting for his attention. While giving out public interviews, Hart isn’t keen on talking about this private life, as a protection of his own family.
The elections are coming closer at rapid speed and it’s all hands on deck for Hart. Making as many appearances all around the nation as possible, surprising friends and foes and fighting for what he believes in, Hart’s private life becomes more public than first anticipated. Sadly, that’s not all in his favour. One moment of weakness, that’s all the press needs to bring him down. A moment that will prove that speculation and tabloid are way more important than privacy. How will Hart respond to this and which impact will this have on his election campaign and his possible presidency? Where does the real journalism end and where does the gossip begins?
Whether you’ve read the book from Bai or whether you followed the elections, you know that that moment became a defining one for Hart’s career. When it comes to the storyline, Reitman his version is fully based on the book and elections and doesn’t give us anything we didn’t know already. That doesn’t mean it becomes too dull or uninteresting, especially when you go into this without any knowledge of the topic.
However, where the film might lack originality, it excels in its unmissable performances. Hugh Jackman (“The Greatest Showman”, “Logan“) shows both his vulnerable side as well as the more determined one as Gary Hart, the politician who became the victim of tabloidization.
As Hart’s closest friends and campaign manager, we see a brilliant J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”, “La La Land“) in the role as Bill Dixon, who only has the best intentions for Hart. The great interaction between Jackman and Simmons becomes very clear in the heat of the moment. The female touch comes from Vera Farmiga (“Up in the Air”, “Bates Motel”) as Lee Hart, who supports her husband even if that means putting her emotions and needs aside.
While this latest Reitman movie might not be praised as much as his previous films such as “Up in the Air” and “Juno”, it’s still one that deserves all the attention it can get. With the screenplay written by Matt Bai and Jay Carson and the use of the low resolution and hand-held cameras, the authenticity of the movie is kept very high. It feels like we’re back in the ’80s. Alongside with Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning directors and actors, “The Front Runner” brings important topics to the forefront. Topics of which we can all learn from.