The Front Runner - review
by Cat Edwards
Where do we draw the line with politics and personal lives? What should be public knowledge and what belongs to an individual? Where are the boundaries for the press? These are all questions that seem relevant today, and it is through the tale of Gary Hart’s 1988 presidential campaign that these themes are explored in The Front Runner.
The film explores Hart’s bid to become the next president of the United States over the course of three weeks and his subsequent fall from grace when the press uncovers his affair with a younger woman.
The modes of storytelling of this presidential bid, from the multiple perspectives of the Hart campaign team, the press and his family, allow the audience to see all sides of the story. The audience is able to empathise with all parties involved, and so the central conflict regarding the boundaries of the press and where lines are drawn between public and personal lives becomes one of conflict and confusion, which ultimately the audience are left to question.
The acting is strong throughout and the cast as a whole work well together. Hugh Jackman is especially enigmatic, and he embodies his complex role in a way that allows the audience to loathe and empathise with the central character in equal measure.
One of the most interesting parts of the film is the inclusion of the Hart family’s narrative, as well as the inclusion of his mistress in the plot. Although they never fully take centre stage, they run as a parallel current to the main events. We see their personal lives in snapshots, and it is in these scenes where the oppressive nature of the media and its unwilling victims is actualised. The true cost of fame does not lie with the individual who chooses to live in the limelight; instead, it is the support network that surrounds the individual that bears the brunt of the damage media attention can, and does, bring.