OUR BRAND IS CRISIS
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5)
Sandra Bullock as JANE
Billy Bob Thornton as PAT CANDY
Anthony Mackie as BEN
Joaquim de Almeida as CASTILLO
Ann Dowd as NELL
Scoot McNairy as BUCKLEY
Zoe Kazan as LEBLANC
Dominic Flores as HUGO
Reynaldo Pacheco as EDDIE
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: David Gordon Green
BY KEVIN CARR
In 2015, there were two films that hit the theaters that I felt gave a sadly appropriate look at the sausage factory that is the political process. One of these movies was “Truth” (which was actually more about journalists and how they handle hot political topics). The other was “Our Brand Is Crisis.”
Both of these films struggled at the box office, and I quite liked them both. I felt the trouble they had connecting with an audience was because they exposed the nasty underbelly of politics that no one wants to acknowledge because it reveals how ugly it can be for every candidate that ever stomped for votes.
The truth hurts, I guess. Fortunately for “Our Brand Is Crisis,” the truth can also be very funny.
This film is particularly relevant now because we find ourselves in the 2016 presidential political cycle, which will continue through the year. Both sides are fraught with uncertainty with conflicting candidates, and there’s fighting going on at all levels.
David Gordon Green directs “Our Brand Is Crisis,” which takes a look at the unpleasant side of political campaigns from the safety of our own ivory towers. Sandra Bullock stars as a retired political strategist who travels to Bolivia to run the campaign of a presidential candidate way behind in the polls. There, she faces against her nemesis (Billy Bob Thornton), who has beaten her several times in the past.
The smart delivery of “Our Brand Is Crisis” comes from setting it outside of the United States. When a movie is made about Democrats or Republicans, the American audience will often polarize as people have a knee-jerk reaction to defend or condemn their affiliated party. However, with the backdrop of Bolivia politics – of which most of us are completely ignorant – we get a chance to look at strictly the campaign tricks rather than the issues themselves.
The story is based on the real-life events of a political strategist in a Bolivian election. While some of the antics that happen in the movie have been massaged for dramatic purposes, its basis in truth is its most unnerving part of the film.
“Our Brand Is Crisis” is extreme and absurd, sometimes hilariously so. It reveals the darkest side to political campaigning, which isn’t a side of the process everyone wants to see. Bullock commands the film with a strong supporting cast, and we end up with one very entertaining movie.
If you can stomach the unpleasantness of the political process, that is.
The Blu-ray is unfortunately a bit slim on bonus content, but such is to be expected from a grown-up movie with soft box office returns. Film geeks aren’t exactly chomping at the bit for commentaries and bonus scenes for this one.
The features that are included on the Blu-ray are “Sandra Bullock: A Role Like No Other,” which was surprisingly insightful (and relevant considering the push for female protagonists in movies) about how the role was original written for George Clooney but was changed to a female lead for her.
This, of course, also indirectly highlights the hypocrisy of entertainment journalists and critics who have been complaining about there being few strong roles for women in film. Warner Bros. as a studio has delivered some significant films this year – from the female-centric buddy comedy “Hot Pursuit” to the sci-fi actioner co-directed by a transgender woman with “Jupiter Ascending” to this film which was gender-swapped for Bullock. It’s time politically-correct critics and writers put their support where their words are and champion what they say they champion.