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Our Brand is Crisis (AF)


Stars: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Joaquim de Almeida, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy, Zoe Kazan, Dominic Flores, Reynaldo Pacheco, Louis Arcella, Ocatvio Gomez Berrios, Luis Chavez, Azucena Diaz, Damian Delgado.

Director: David Gordon Green

Gravity brought Sandra Bullock an Oscar nomination for floating solo in space while costar George Clooney floated out of the movie enjoyably early on.

Here, in this flatulent aspirant political satire that mostly misses both its political and satirical targets and finally emerges as dull and dramatically infantile, mercifully Clooney is nowhere to be seen.

Unfortunately for all concerned on both sides of the screen, however, as producer he was presumably everywhere behind the scenes.

Although, given the strength of the auteur theory, blame will be lavished on director David Gordon Green.

Okay. At its acid best political satire can hit hard and entertainingly cynically. Here, however, Green hardly had a chance, saddled as he was with Peter Straughan’s slack, overdone and underwhelming screenplay (based on a documentary) and by Sandra Bullock with dyed blonde hair and not much else to recommend her performance as political strategist “Calamity” Jane Bodine apart from some quite convincing on-screen vomiting.

The vomiting is brought about by her discomfort at ending up in a high altitude city (she needs an oxygen tank to keep going) in Bolivia in 2002 to advise presidential candidate Joaquim de Almeida how to win the upcoming election despite being informed, “He’s not a winner”.

Nor is the movie. When Bullock announces, “This is a crisis” she’s referring to the presidential campaign.

But the reference is equally applicable to the movie.

No cliché is omitted, no character is too cardboard to be paraded, no alleged satire too blunted not to be given screen time.
Billy Bob Thornton doesn’t stir himself (why should he?) playing Bullock’s rival American strategist and their climactic bonding has all the credibility of a politician’s promises.

The best performance by far, however, is given by Bolivian city La Paz and its environs (attractively photographed by Tim Orr) which gives the movie much needed visual interest as a break from the politicking that goes on all around it.
The rampant cynicism and the fact that the film is fact based failed to convert me its evident self-admiration. Overlong, underpowered and easy to forget; Thornton summed up the film perfectly for me when he said (admittedly not in this particular context) “Have you ever heard such a load of shit?”

Not since Pan, if you want to know.

Alan Frank

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers . Colour.
105 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 20 Jan 2016