Directed by: David Gordon Green – Starring: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Joaquim de Almeida, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy, Zoe Kazan
Since it is awards season, you can expect a lot of “worthy and deep” dramas to be hitting our screens, and this is no exception. Interestingly, this is based on a 2005 documentary of the same name, which looked at the involvement of US political campaign strategists in the 2002 Bolivian Presidential election. It seems that you really can’t make this stuff up!
For obvious reasons, names have been changed and events have been fictionalised (no one wants to get on the wrong side of a president after all). Bullock stars here as Jane Bodine, a political strategist whose nickname is Calamity Jane, ever since she spectacularly lost a campaign a few years ago.
Persuaded to return to the fold when she is told her arch-nemesis, Pat Candy (Thornton) is working for the opposition, she finds herself battling altitude sickness before she even gets going. On top of that, her candidate is dead in the water, and it’s going to take a lot of work to transform the public’s opinion of him. Using every weapon in her armoury, she resolves that she will not be beaten by Candy, despite the fact that she has clearly lost the passion she once had for the job.
Although this might sound like a pretty heavy watch, Bullock is hilariously funny, and there are genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Unfortunately, they don’t always sit well with the bigger story, which makes for a sometimes confusing watch. It’s not quite edgy enough to make you care about the politics, and not quite funny enough to distract you from them. It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with it – it’s beautifully shot, the performances are great and the soundtrack works well – it is just that it doesn’t really seem to know where it wants to fit. While it is less Primary Colours, and more The Thick of It, it still seems confused about exactly which end of the spectrum it wants to fall.
Despite this, it is a watchable film, even if only for Bullock’s performance, but it probably won’t be the top of anyone’s must-see list. Too patchy to be fully engaging, it does still manage to entertain, albeit in spurts, but in a season choc full of hard hitting dramas, it falls short.
In Cinemas Now!