The Front Runner
Panorama | Galas
In 1988, Senator Gary Hart was the odds on favourite for the Democratic presidential nomination. In the space of three fateful weeks, his political career imploded thanks to monkey business and muckraking.
As the film opens, Hart’s (Hugh Jackman) campaign has amassed considerable momentum thanks to him possessing "the hair" (the cameras practically swoon) and a progressive platform. The only thing holding him back would seem to be his reluctance to play the P.R. game or delve into his personal life. Murmurs of strained relations with his wife, Lee (Vera Famiga), serve as kindling for subsequent raging rumours about an extramarital affair (with Sarah Paxton) that began on a pleasure craft all too fittingly christened Monkey Business.
Working from Matt Bai’s All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid, director Jason Reitman (Up in the Air) maintains a wonderful directorial control as Hart and his handlers (led by the delightfully surly J.K. Simmons) desperately try to fend off the various breeds of journalistic wolves outside their door, including the opportunistic (Kevin Pollak) and the conflicted (Mamoudou Athie). In detailing the calculated damage control that unfolds during such crises, The Front Runner also serves notice that privacy died long before the rise of the internet.