Since Election Day was this past week, it seems appropriate a movie based on a national campaign would coincide. George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s film “Our Brand Is Crisis,” based on a documentary film of the same name, depicts the pivotal final days of the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. Considered a box office bomb, this movie is striking with its promise of success and a happy ending, but ultimately fails to live up to audience expectations.
It is difficult to produce a script that focuses entirely on a presidential campaign happening in a country not often noted for its feisty candidates. And when it comes to making a movie about politics in general, chronic boredom is easy to come by. a
Carrying most of the weight is Sandra Bullock as Jane Bodine, an unsentimental and driven political strategist hired in order to help one of Bolivia’s most unpopular candidates achieve victory. Bullock is known for being one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses and for bringing movies up from the depths of disappointment. However, her valiant effort does not succeed in this film. There are still too many flaws.
“Our Brand is Crisis” is best described as a mix of political drama, a few comedic elements and a lot of turmoil. This is difficult to achieve, since strong movies generally do not mix genre extremes. Viewers want and have always wanted “one or the other.” While there were some light-hearted moments, it was mostly a heart-pounding dramatization of a stressful event, therefore the comedy was is inappropriate and unwarranted.
The developing narrative of Bodine’s relationship with her nemesis Pat Candy, an opposing campaign leader played by Billy Bob Thornton, is unequivocally the most interesting development of the plot. Bodine and Candy are constantly in conflict and one-up each other in order to gain the advantage. A certain degree of indecency also keeps the relationship stirring.
When you have worked in the movie industry for as long as movie notables Bullock or producer Clooney, or even director David Gordon Green — who is not known for any hits — you may see this as a title you would want to erase from your resume. And you should, honestly. What “Our Brand Is Crisis” severely lacks is ingenuity. What audience members receive is an adapted story that is stolen from popular television political dramas that repeat a candidate’s need for nitty-gritty details about their opponent and punches below the belt. When any action comes along, like an incredibly misplaced bus scene, it seems forced and somewhat disturbing.
On a side note, what this movie does well is give depth to the realm of campaigning. In any country, it’s a dirty business to be involved with. It shows what measures campaign strategists are willing to take to find personal details about their opponents. Bodine makes the battle personal since it is revealed that Candy has beaten her many times before. Bodine digs up every last detail about Candy’s candidate. This strongly alludes to how campaigns operate today around the globe.
“Our Brand Is Crisis” is a brand of disappointment. When it came out on Oct. 30, it showed promise of introducing audience members to international politics on a grand scale. But when nobody showed up to view it, that complicated things further. Keep looking forward, though. A number of great flicks are on their way to the big screen.