Our Brand Is Crisis
Enjoyable but insufficiently caustic political satire lifted by its star Sandra Bullock
Given how greedily TV’s The Thick of It and Veep have feasted on the cynicism of modern politics, Our Brand Is Crisis feels as if it is arriving a little late to the party. David Gordon Green’s fictional variation on Rachel Boynton’s 2005 documentary aims to blend the snappy banter of screwball comedy with the multi-layered sophistication of Robert Altman. It succeeds only in creating a slick, painless concoction that glides along on the charisma of its star Sandra Bullock, in a role that was originally written for George Clooney.
Bullock’s brash political strategist ‘Calamity’ Jane Bodine has left the rat race behind for a quiet life in the country. Then she is asked to run the campaign of Bolivia’s former president Pedro Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida) as he fights an uphill battle to reclaim the affections of the electorate. The fact that Castillo’s biggest rival is soaring in the opinion polls and has hired the services of Bodine’s arch nemesis Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton) makes the job irresistible. Bodine may know nothing about the nuances of Bolivian politics but she knows every dirty little trick required to win voters and influence elections.
Our Brand Is Crisis takes easy shots at a political age in which perception is more important than reality and personality always trumps conviction. Bodine is born for a world of shameless manipulation, hollow promises and soulless puppets. Unfortunately, none of this feels like news and Peter Straughan’s screenplay is never as cutting or caustic as you might have wished, especially as Bodine is nudged towards redemption. Bullock’s comic instincts are as winning as ever and there is a great feisty chemistry with the snake-like Thornton, but ultimately this enjoyable film never quite delivers a killer blow.
General release from Fri 22 Jan.