The Front Runner

2018

Biography / Drama

18
IMDb Rating 6.4

Synopsis


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2.21G
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English
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112 min
P/S 50 / 251
1.41G
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English
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112 min
P/S 63 / 262

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bob-the-movie-man 6

The Front Runner is based on the true-story of US presidential hopeful Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman) and if you are NOT aware of the historical background (and have not seen the trailer) then you might want to skip the rest of this review - and all other reviews - so you can see the film first and let the history come as a surprise to you.<br/><br/>Hart was younger than most candidates: good-looking, floppy-haired and refreshingly matter of fact in his dealings with the public and the press. Any interviews had to be about his politics: not about his family life with wife Lee (Vera Farmiga) and teenage daughter Andrea (Kaitlyn Dever).<br/><br/>Unfortunately, Hart has a weakness for a pretty face (or ten) and his marriage is rocky as a result: &quot;Just don&#39;t embarrass me&quot; is Lee&#39;s one requirement. His &quot;nothing to hide&quot; line to an intelligent Washington Post reporter - AJ Parker (a well cast Mamoudou Athie) - leads to a half-arsed stake-out by Miami Herald reporters and incriminating pictures linking Hart to a Miami pharmaceutical saleswoman Donna Rice (Sara Paxton). As the growing press tsunami rises, and his campaign manager (J.K. Simmons) gets more and more frustrated with him, can his candidacy survive and will his (now very much embarrassed) wife stick by him?<br/><br/>Hugh Jackman is perfectly cast here; very believable as the self-centred, self-righteous and stubborn politician. But this central performance is surrounded by a strong team of supporting players. Vera Farmiga is superb as the wounded wife. Sara Paxton is heartbreaking as the intelligent college girl unfairly portrayed as a &quot;slapper&quot; by the media. The scenes between her and Hart-staffer Irene (Molly Ephraim), trying desperately to support her as best she can, are very nicely done. J.K Simmons as campaign manager Bill Dixon is as reliable as ever. And Alfred Molina turns up as the latest film incarnation of The Post&#39;s Ben Bradlee - surely one of the most oft portrayed real-life journalists in film history.<br/><br/>One of my biggest dissatisfactions with the film is with the sound mixing. Was this a deliberate act by director Jason Reitman, to reflect the chaotic nature of political campaigning? Whether it was deliberate or not, much of the film&#39;s dialogue - particularly in the first 30 minutes of the film - is drowned out by background noise. Sometimes I just longed for subtitles!<br/><br/>The screenplay, by Matt Bai (from his source book), Jay Carson (a Clinton staffer) and director Jason Reitman might align with the story, but the big problem is that the story is just a little bit dull, particularly by today&#39;s levels of scandal. This suffers the same fate as &quot;House of Cards&quot; (even before the Kevin Spacey allegations) in that the shocking realities of the Trump-era have progressively neutered the shock-factor of the fiction: to the point where it starts to become boring. Here, only once or twice does the screenplay hit a winning beat: for me, it was the scenes between Donna Rice and Irene Kelly and the dramatic press conference towards the end of the film. The rest of the time, the screenplay was perfectly serviceable but nothing spectacular.<br/><br/>A core tenet of the film is Hart&#39;s view that politics should be about the policies and not about the personality. Looking at the subject nowadays, it&#39;s clearly a ridiculously idealistic viewpoint. Of course it matters. Politicians need to be trusted by their constituents (yeah, like that&#39;s the case in the UK and the US at the moment!) and whether or not they slap their wives around or sleep with farm animals is clearly a material factor in that relationship. But this was clearly not as much the case in the 70&#39;s as it is today, and the suggestion is that the Hart case was a turning point and a wake-up call to politicians around the world. (An interesting article by the Washington Post itself points out that this is also a simplistic view: that Hart should have been well aware of the dangerous game he was playing.)<br/><br/>Do you think that powerful politicos are driven to infidelity because they are powerful? Or that it is a characteristic of men who have the charisma to become political leaders in the first place? Such was the discussion my wife and I had in the car home after this film. Nature or political nurture? I&#39;m still not sure. It&#39;s worth pointing out that to this day both Hart and Rice (interestingly, an alleged ex-girlfriend of Eagles front-man Don Henley) stick to their story that they never had sex.<br/><br/>The film&#39;s perfectly watchable, has great acting, but is a little bit of a non-event. The end titles came and I thought &quot;OK, that&#39;s that then&quot;.... nothing more. If you&#39;re a fan of this style of historical political film then you probably won&#39;t be disappointed by it; if not, probably best to wait and catch this on the TV.<br/><br/>(For the full graphical review please check out One Mann&#39;s Movies on the web or Facebook. Thanks).

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Reviewed by roblesar99 7

When I checked out the reviews for THE FRONT RUNNER after walking out of the theater, I was surprised to find that it was being met with a generally mixed critical reception. That&#39;s not to say that THE FRONT RUNNER is some sort of masterpiece, but I definitely thought it was an interesting film, and one that feels rather timely in this day and age (for reasons that are quite obvious). Perhaps the best thing I can say about the film is that it manages to avoid the on-the-nose writing that plagued BLACKKKLANSMAN in more than a few scenes. Reitman smartly lets the film speak for itself, letting the audience draw their own connection between the events that torpedoed Senator Gary Hart&#39;s campaign over thirty years ago and similar events that have plagued other politicians over the last few years. If there&#39;s one consequence to such an approach, it&#39;s that Reitman presents a lot of ideas without ever taking a firm stand on them, failing to elaborate on ideas that almost demand further analysis - an approach that will certainly rub some the wrong way. That being said, there&#39;s a lot to enjoy here, from Hugh Jackman&#39;s great performance to Jason Reitman&#39;s directing (I quite liked the way he utilized the camera here) to Rob Simonsen&#39;s low-key electronic score to the rest of the supporting cast (with an affecting Vera Farmiga being the obvious standout). It even reminded me of a bit of I, TONYA in its analysis of the press (how would American history have been affected if not for their obsession over Hart&#39;s love life?).<br/><br/>One more thing, though: it might have just been the theater I watched this in, but the sound mixing in this was atrocious. I want to watch this film again with subtitles just so that I can understand the other half of what the characters were saying.

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Reviewed by rorymarsh00 7

&#39;The Front Runner&#39; is a film that, despite its heavy political background, is more focused on the personal story of its titular character, Gary Hart. Reitman&#39;s film both benefits and suffers for this, depending on the type of audience member you are. Should you be expecting a dense political drama, evolving from a campaign and policy focused narrative into more of a personal crisis, you may be disappointed. The political background is present, but irrelevant in the overarching narrative, instead revealing itself to purely be a character-driven drama. &#39;The Front Runner&#39; is not about the difficulties of running for president, but more about how the media can tarnish one&#39;s livelihood, and their treatment to Hart, whilst arguably justified, appears alarmingly savage when compared to Trump&#39;s America and the conspiracies plaguing his presidency. As a result, the film is surprisingly relevant today, but more down to coincidence than planned. Despite this, Jackman&#39;s performance may be a standout in his career, serving as the lifeblood of this story - his peak dramatic moments are unmatched throughout the film. This performance may well create a contender come awards season, as he skillfully fluctuates from a good-natured family man, to a paranoid mess, and everything in-between. Furthermore, the film&#39;s reluctance to take a side regarding the prevalent issues it discusses is bolstered by Jackman creating a character that is not good or bad, neither morally grey, forming someone who is undoubtable real. As a result, when Jackman is at his best, &#39;The Front Runner&#39; achieves dizzying heights, serving as a relentlessly compelling character piece, however, upon his absence, which serves as a large portion of the film, it can become overly slow and laborious, leaving the audience striving for his return. Furthermore, the conclusion appears anti-climactic which, unavoidable as it may be considering this is a true story, nonetheless ends with a squeak rather than a shout. The narrative aside, the film is technically well-constructed, opening with a gorgeous long-take that establishes the time and setting with efficiency, an illusion that holds up throughout. Even the use of title-cards establishing locations are reminiscent of films made in the late-80&#39;s and early 90&#39;s, this attention to detail reminiscent of a director who cares for the source material. Reitman is, by this point, an experienced director, and his confidence is visible here, however, it feels as though the stellar direction and performances deserve more than this generic, somewhat unfulfilling narrative can provide.

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