Politics makes strange bedfellows
Our Brand is Crisis
R | 107 min | Comedy, Drama
Review - Matt Mungle
**In theaters October 30, 2015**
Synopsis: An American woman, well-versed in political campaigns, is sent to the war-torn lands of South America to help install a new leader but is threatened to be thwarted by a long-term rival.
Review: Charles Dudley Warner said, "politics makes strange bedfellows". Meaning of course that political interests can bring together people who otherwise have little in common. It can also be said that politics makes good script fodder. The latest being OUR BRAND IS CRISIS in which Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton make strange but entertaining screen mates.
Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida) is a Bolivian presidential candidate with a dismal rating in the polls. he is going to need exceptional help and maybe a miracle if he is going to beat out the front runner Rivera (Louis Arcella). Castillo's campaign team decide to bring in American strategist “Calamity” Jane Bodine (Bullock). Jane is fantastic at what she does, or was until a devastating defeat with horrible consequences sidelined her emotionally. She reluctantly agrees to join the team only to find that Rivera has Pat Candy, Jane's rival and nemesis, on his side. The election now becomes personal and Calamity Jane will stop at nothing to see Castillo win. Best candidate or not.
Sandra Bullock can step up in dramatic fashion. We have no argument about that. She even has a little gold statue on her mantle to prove it. We love her in the romantic comedy realm but truth be told she is fantastic at being vulnerable and chaotic. She has layers of emotion that she can tap into which allows her a subtle and effective range of character dynamic. We see a lot of that in this one. And it balances perfectly with the sly, cat who ate the canary, persona that Thornton oozes so effortlessly. The two do a dance in this one that is a tango of respect and ruthlessness.
Pat Candy is a quiet easy going guy on the surface. The kind that will smile and nod to your face while the whole time picturing you in the throes of pain and death. You never see him sweat. He always seems to be in complete control. This is in dire contrast to Jane's frantic, chaotic nature. She seems close to a nervous breakdown and you wonder if she has control of anything. But just when you think all is lost she has the ability to grab solution from nowhere and make is fantastic.
You do not have to be a fan of politics to enjoy the story line and script of this. Yes it takes place in the political arena but it is more about the cunning, behind the scene tactics of the two strategists. When Jane comes up with the crisis brand for Castillo's campaign it then becomes a game of how to let it best serve their agenda. Like many elections it is not about the right man winning it is simply just about winning.
There are a few funny moments in this one but not sophomoric half-witted comedy. The laughs are pure and natural. They are well fitted for pressure situations and organically break the tension. It is by definition more a lighthearted drama. The layers of emotion coming from the solid acting of the main cast. OUR BRAND IS CRISIS is rated R for language including some sexual references. It is intended for adults and the language and references are not awkward or gratuitous. They are true to life and situation specific. I give it 3.5 out of 5 bus rides. I would recommend seeing it for sure just not convinced it is worth box office ticket money. A cheaper matinee or wait for the rental? Not a bad option.