I was one of Gary Hartís many fans back in 1988. Handsome, intelligent and a successful senator from Colorado, he seemed to have the Democrat Partyís nomination for President in the bag. The Front Runner, directed by Jason Reitman, reveals how everything came tumbling down during the last three weeks of his campaign.
This riveting drama focuses on Hartís affair with Donna Rice and the way it was covered in the press as well as how Hart refused to answer questions about it. Despite Hartís forward-looking ideas about such important issues as education, technology, and the environment, the only thing reporters wanted to hear about was his extra-marital activity. That overshadowed all his accomplishments and exciting plans for our countryís future.
The Front Runner shows Gary Hart
and why his campaign fell apart.
Did reporters treat Gary right
by stalking him both day and night?
His privacy they would not grant.
A right to know became their chant.
Hugh Jackman soars in the lead role,
projecting depth of heart and soul.
This film makes us reflect on how
our world might be much better now
if Gary stayed and fought to win.
Who among us is without sin?
Jackmanís splendid performance definitely deserves recognition during the 2018 awards season. Once more, this versatile actor proves he can handle any kind of genre role -- drama, action, romance, comedy, superhero, etc. Iíll never understand why he failed to receive an Oscar nomination last year for his marvelous portrayal of P. T. Barnum in The Greatest Showman. Maybe the Academy will make it up to him this year. Academy voters should be sure to watch Jackman during the intense scene when Hart confronts The Miami Herald reporters in an alley. And I hope they donít miss Jackmanís heartbreaking face when Hart finally realizes those reporters have been stalking him. Those are just two examples out of many.
Should Gary Hart have regrets about the way he handled this situation? His refusal to follow the advice of his loyal campaign manager (portrayed by the always great J.K. Simmons), who wanted him to issue a statement about his relationship with Donna Rice (played sympathetically by Sara Paxton) -- and not lie about it -- seems troublesome. After all, Hart challenged one reporter to follow him. ďPut a tail on me. Iím boring,Ē he said.
Vera Farmiga also excels as Hartís wife. Her realistic reactions to the Donna Rice affair just might result in a supporting actress Oscar nomination.
Everything about The Front Runner feels real to me. However, it opens old wounds regarding a political mess thatís not something I like to remember.
(Released by Columbia Pictures Corporation and rated ďRĒ by the MPAA.)
For more information about The Front Runner, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.