Our Brand Is Crisis
Directed by David Gordon Green
A feature film based on the documentary "Our Brand Is Crisis", which focuses on the use of American political campaign strategies in South America.
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★★★★ review by WillML on Letterboxd
Okay I'm calling it right now. The most underrated and overlooked major movie of 2015. One of the 'Plot Keywords' on this films IMDb page is "box office flop". This makes me sad.
Seriously. Look at these reviews. You'd be hard pressed to find a rating above 3 stars on this site. That's crazy to me.
Well, clearly to me and only me, "Our Brand is Crisis" is a hugely entertaining and sharply written political comedy from director David Gordon Green, who by chance happens to be one of my favorite directors (based on his lovely indie dramas), and writer Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and tells the story of political strategist Jane Bodine fighting against all sorts of odds to re-elect a president in Bolivia.
The thing I found myself immediately appreciating about this film is its focus on character. In so many of these political (comedy) films, you never really get a sense of the people that you're supposed to be rooting for, yet in "Our Brand", right from the opening scene you feel like you could know these people in real life. And while the events that take place in this film are many times ridiculous and way beyond believability, the writing feels so confident in its comedic tone that it never once bothered me, and I laughed out loud -- like, really loud (THANK YOU SCOOT) -- on numerous occasions.
Everyone gives excellent performances. Bullock fits her role perfectly, SCOOOOT is just perfect, Mackie does good work, and Thornton is his sly and oddly charming usual self.
Is it perfect? No, but I just had a lot of fun watching this. It's got a quick and snappy pace and lots of great dialogue that if you ask me, was handled perfectly. Maybe people were expecting something a little more serious (perhaps?), and I'll admit that there are moments in the film that stutter and don't fully add up, but overall I was utterly satisfied and surprised by this very fun and entirely well handled film.
★★★★ review by loureviews on Letterboxd
A film about the smear tactics around elections in Bolivia (which are more or less the same throughout the world).
Sandra Bullock is very good indeed as the washed-up strategist brought in to shake up a failing candidate's campaign.
In a role originally planned for George Clooney, Billy Bob Thornton is the sleazy campaigner for the other side, trying to get into Bullock's good books (and bed) by a mix of verbal sparring, charm and dirty talk. It's an excellent piece of casting.
This film failed at the box office, perhaps because audiences don't care about Bolivia, or have political fatigue. It's a fictionalised account of a real campaign, and I found it clever, provoking and enjoyable.
★★★½ review by Dave on Letterboxd
Enjoyable dramedy about a ruthless political strategist who will do whatever it takes to win an election. OUR BRAND IS CRISIS is less about politics and more about the emotional effects campaigning has on everyone involved. The comedy is a bit goofy at times, but there are a few good laughs sprinkled throughout. Bullock is fantastic here, and she's matched well with Thornton, Dowd, McNairy and Mackie.
It's nothing great, but worth a look for fans of the pedigree involved.
★★★½ review by Megan on Letterboxd
There is a scene that completely sums up this movie:
Jane (Sandra Bullock) and her political team are riding on their campaign bus when they find themselves behind rival strategist Pat Candy's (Billy Bob Thornton) bus. It then becomes this giant bus chase through the Bolivian mountains as adults are yelling obscenities and mooning each other. Once Jane's bus passes Candy's the scene is over and we fade to black. And this is a film about the destructive nature of politics and neocolonialism in South America.
As this scene shows, the movie knows how to have a good time. Crisis is full of charm but low on delivering actual satire. It's tonally uneven with its early comedic beats to its overly serious conclusion. I love a scene of Sandy Bullock and some Bolivian teens getting wasted and trashing a hotel room but like the buses it really veers the plot off course. There's enough slow motion and purple hues to keep me entertained but it doesn't hit the thematic bullseye it's aiming for.
★★★½ review by Scott Renshaw on Letterboxd
Not nearly as caustically insightful about slash-and-burn campaigning as it could have been--or, frankly, as it seems to think it is--but that's mostly okay. Bullock's performance grabs on to provocative emotional truth, playing someone whose primary goal is getting her client to win, but first has to psych herself up into becoming a True Believer in her own message, so that she can justify any method in achieving that primary goal. And not for nothing, but it's just plain fun a lot of the time, with great little bits of business like McNairy's recurring inability to pronounce difficult words. Yeah, the abrupt shift at the conclusion isn't entirely earned, and there are missed opportunities to create vivid personalities beyond Bullock and Thornton (Joaquim de Almeida sometimes seems appropriately enigmatic as the would-be once-again Bolivian president, more often simply under-written). But if you're going to sell an audience a story about America exporting its brand of take-no-prisoners/just-win-baby politicking, you might as well make it this generally entertaining.
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