Gary Hart Was Going to be President. Instead He Changed American Politics Forever.
I was not alive in 1988, nor was I familiar with Gary Hart and his story; so going-into “The Front Runner” I had no preconceived notions or ideas. The film opens in 1984, Hart (Hugh Jackman) is about to concede his Democratic Presidential Candidate Election to then-Vice President Walter Mondale. Four years later, he is determined to run for our Country’s highest office and, this time, he is the clear front runner for the Democratic nomination. Not only are his ideas and plans progressive, but his style and charisma (as undoubtedly comes natural for Jackman) are a welcome change for the American people. His staff is well-run, featuring some of the brightest minds, both young and old, all working to achieve the same goal. The cast playing his staff members, including the likes of J.K. Simmons, Molly Ephraim, Josh Brener, Mark O’Brien, Chris Coy, Alex Karpovsky, Tommy Dewey, and Oliver Cooper all play-off one another naturally; their witty banter delivers and provokes laughter and thought. As his campaign continues, he ventures-off and meets a young woman in Florida.
During an investigative trip, Miami Herald reporters (who discovered the young woman due to an anonymous tip) catch the Senator and have the photos to prove it. Over the course of the next week, a dramatic series events shows the downfall of one man who was slated to be the next President of the United States. His wife, Lee Hart (Vera Farmiga), and his daughter, Andrea Hart (Kaitlyn Dever), are put directly in the crossfire, as top news agencies and newspapers all want a chance to break the next controversial development. While these events may have taken-place in 1987, they are still wholly-relevant and important today. For us Missourians, just last year we saw a similar scandal with our Governor; as well all feared and felt for his family during the followings days and weeks as more information came-out. Sadly, this is seen all too often still to this day. While the details of the scandal are the film’s primary target-outcome, it’s clear that their ethical and moral reasoning and effects on the American people and his own family is director Jason Reitman’s intention.
“The Front Runner” raises some very important questions, ones that still do not have black and white answers. Is a candidate’s private life fair game for journalists? The film also touches on his alleged-womanizing rumors, giving an inclusion of today’s MeToo movement that is still very much culturally profound. While the film entertains during its 113 minute runtime, it becomes obvious that the film is much more introspective as it questions the viewer to decide for themselves if Hart was treated fairly. In today’s World were even news corporations are clearly opinionated and have a slanted viewpoint, it’s nice to see a film that gives an unbiased scope. While the cast are very charming and important issues are addressed, “The Front Runner” is a by no means profound or a masterpiece. And that is perfectly acceptable, as there is plenty here for both political and non-political viewers to unwrap and it is sure to leave them all thoroughly entertained. The film never tries to be anything more than an entertaining, thought-provoking, unbiased look at integrity and how Gary Hart’s dreams were derailed by the turning of tides in the news World and it is very much appreciated!
THE FRONT RUNNER is rated R for language including some sexual references, in theaters NOVEMBER 21ST!