OUR BRAND IS CRISIS
FILM REVIEW - OUR BRAND IS CRISIS
Directed by David Gordon Green.
Starring Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie.
Our Brand is Crisis can’t be a political thriller, because it’s determinedly unthrilling. But this tale of political strategists spinning a presidential election campaign in Bolivia doesn’t work as satire either. There’s simply no bite, no target of ridicule, and every character is treated with too much sympathy. What it is then, is terribly mundane.
“Calamity” Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock) is a former spin doctor and recovering alcoholic, throwing pottery and living in isolation at a remote mountain cabin. She is coaxed out of her self-imposed retirement when presented with the possibility of beating long-time nemesis Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton). Off she trots to Bolivia, and attempts to drag a lame duck candidate out of the political doldrums.
Peter Straughan’s (Frank, The Men Who Stare at Goats) script occasionally gives us some spiky vocal sparring, adding strategic inspiration from Muhammad Ali and Warren Beatty to the Sun Tzu cliché. Thornton’s predatory sociopath adds a little spark, but it’s the type of role that we’ve seen before. Bullock is great, as comfortable with comedy as drama, but none of this is enough to rescue a mundane, predictable story. The big reveal that (spoiler) the political system is fundamentally flawed, and politicians will say and do anything to get elected won’t come as a surprise. In the end, it’s all rather toothless.