TIFF Review: ‘The Front Runner’ is an Engaging Political Drama

A well made political drama is easy to like. Politics, in itself, is so unpredictable that you don’t need to make up fictional stories around it. As they say, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. That’s completely true in case of political stories. One such political story happened in 1988. Senator Gary Hart had captured the imagination of young voters and was considered the overwhelming front-runner for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination. But within a span of three weeks his he had to shelve his campaign due to his extramarital relationship with a young woman. The events left a profound and lasting impact on American politics and media.

Jason Reitman had a superb beginning to his film career. His first three directed films — Thanks For Smoking, Juno and Up in the Air — garnered immense praise from audiences and critics alike. And then his career got sort of derailed. His last three films – Labor Day, Men Woman and Children, Tully – fared poorly. But with The Front Runner he is back into the game. Not only this is among his best films, but also a film that truly captures the zeitgeist.

The Frontrunner will remind you of several films of the past — from All The President’s Men to the recent The Post. At its crux, it is a film that deals with the conflict between politics and media. In that sense, with everything that is going on between Trump and leading media outlets, The Front Runner couldn’t have arrived at a better time. I think it is a film that will undoubtedly evoke debates on the relationship between politicians and journalists.

One of the other more interesting aspects of the film is that Reitman chooses to make both sides of the argument. The film doesn’t absolve Hart — even though it is definitely a little sympathetic towards him — but then it also holds a mirror to the press. In the same breath, let me also point out, that the film does highlight the importance of freedom of the press — while questioning their infringement of the privacy of politicians.

Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Gary Hart is commendable, to say the least. Don’t be surprised if he ends up getting nominated for Best Actor Oscar. He surely deserves it. Other cast members, including Vera Farmiga and J.K. Simmons, are good too.

Overall, there is nothing to not like about The Front Runner. It is one of those films that may not evoke passionate support, but will surely be admired and respected by all. Whether that will be enough for The Front Runner to be the frontrunner in the Oscar race, we will have to wait and see.

Rating: 4/5