Scott Says Sandra Bullock Can’t Save the Emotionally Hollow OUR BRAND IS CRISIS

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FILM REVIEW: OUR BRAND IS CRISIS

BY SCOTT PETERSON

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I think we all get the point.  The behind the scenes machinations involving anything and everything politics is more often than not ugly and morally bankrupt. The primary problem with Sandra Bullock’s new movie Our Brand is Crisis is that it doesn’t bring anything new to the table and the real “crisis” in the film is of the identity variety.  Our Brand is Crisis at times wants to be a satiric comedy,but it’s not scathing or witty enough to enter Wag the Dog territory.   At times it wants to be dramatic but never fully succeeds in invoking any emotional investment from the audience.

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Sandra Bullock stars as “Calamity” Jane Bodine, a burnt out campaign adviser living in seclusion. One day, she is visited by Nell (Ann Dowd ) and Ben (Anthony Mackie) and is asked to head to South America and help rejuvenate the campaign of former ex Bolivian President Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida). Naturally, Jane is disinterested until she hears that the current front-runner for president is represented by her arch nemesis Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton). Jane has never beaten Candy and sees a window of opportunity to get back in the game.  This scene in particular is unconvincing and completely disconnected because it doesn’t take much for the disheveled and emotionally spent Jane to immediately say ” Sign me up”.

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Once Jane arrives in South America she immediately seems disinterested. The altitude has her walking around with a breathing apparatus on her face and lugging around an oxygen tank in one hand and a bag of chips in the other. I can only surmise that this is Our Brand is Crisis’s way of walking that fine line at attempted comedy.  Jane walks around the first half of the film just moping and going through the motions. It’s only after she bumps into Candy that her motivation level jumps into high gear and we see why Jane was brought on to advise and her political shrewdness goes on full display.

OUR BRAND IS CRISIS

Our Brand is Crisis works best when Bullock and Thornton share the screen.They are both fantastic here. The political adversaries genuinely don’t like each other and their verbal jousting is well written, humorous, and is by far the best moments of the film. Unfortunately, those moments are few and far between. How many times have we seen that character who is absolutely void of any emotion whatsoever do an about face and develop a conscience at the end? At it’s heart, that’s the overall premise of Our Brand is Crisis.  It’s an emotionally hollow and contrived “redemption” story that has no real pay off. In the end, Our Brand is Crisis is just another “shoulder shrug” of a film that could’ve been much better.

 

FINAL WORD:  StarStarEmpty StarEmpty Star