David Gordon Green's "Our Brand Is Crisis" (2015): An attempt at showing us how the world is run

By Anirban Lahiri

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Our Brand Is Crisis (2015) - By David Gordon Green
Our Rating: 5.5
IMDb Ratings: 5.7
Genre: Comedy | Drama

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie
Language: English | Spanish
Runtime: 107 min

Color: Color

Summary: Bolivia, facing a huge national debt to the IMF, is ready for another Presidential election. A crazily passionate election strategist is called back from retirement to help the unlikely candidate, the unpopular Ex-President, to win.

A political strategist, according to the US bureau of labor statistics, is a senior political consultant who designs and directs election campaigns for politicians”, thus goes the Wikipedia entry. David Gordon Greene’s new film throws ample light on the professional life, and crafted reality, of top political strategists.

Jane Bodine (played by Sandra Bullock), retired political strategist with a pinch of personal revenge against her professional enemy Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton), is hired by Ex-President and unpopular Presidential Candidate Pedro Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida), to win the Bolivian election. Bodine carves out edgy power-plans to topple Rivera, the primary opponent in the election.
Jane Bodine in a heated argument flanked by LeBlanc, Our Brand Is Crisis, Directed by David Gordon Green
Jane Bodine in a heated argument flanked by LeBlanc
This fictional piece of trilling campaign, and lies, is inspired by a non-fiction of the same name by Rachel Boynton, made in 2003 immediately after the 2002 Presidential election in Bolivia. Boynton made the film on the celebrity political election consultant James Carville. David Gordon chose the same event as his point of arrival, with a fictional character, a frenzied, pushy Bodine, who takes the Presidential contest as a personal bout of power.

The first popular news about election strategy broke out when Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebecker made The War Room (1993) on Clinton’s win in the previous year’s US Presidential election. The background heros of that important global event were Carville and George Stephanopoulos. While the professional career of a high-value political strategist like Carville goes around spectacularly high and more usual tropes, the current film tries to sensationalize this so much that the events sometimes fall flat on their face.
Jane Bodine and Pedro Castillo, in Our Brand Is Crisis, Directed by David Gordon Green
Jane Bodine and Pedro Castillo
Despite going over the top at points, the film would be enjoyable to a big cross section of Indian Hollywood watchers, especially in the aftermath of the Bihar election of last year, and BJP’s come back with the most vivid flying colors in the previous. Political strategy is a reality in the remote corners of urban India, especially today, when people are turning aware in spite of aversion to reading, thanks to facebook and TV.
This fictional piece of trilling campaign, and lies, is inspired by a non-fiction of the same name by Rachel Boynton, made in 2003 immediately after the 2002 Presidential election in Bolivia.
The universality of the plot, the regularity of forgotten promises by the President Elect, the consequent popular protests, and the finer machinations by the global power-joint may ring some tune to the Indian audience who feel that governments regardless of color, or faith, have kept on selling the country to foreign economies or corporates – UK, USSR or US, whoever could bid the best. 
Jane Bodine and Pat Candy, Directed by David Gordon Green
Jane Bodine and Pat Candy
The added factor is the humanization of the political strategist, Bodine, who marches along with the protesters, in the end of the film. She, at the risk of becoming a cultural stereotype – the empathetic core inside the iron armour – is projected as the crazy, idiosyncratic, passionate artist of the election strategy, who is ready for any expense to earn the trophy. The gritty, realistic photography by Tim Orr, although a little blotchy in the studio portions, helps in getting into that mood.

Culture is a scripted tour. However, the script is written by invisible hands. Roland Barthes compared baseball matches with cinema, with the only difference being that script would be written simultaneously as the game is played on. These days, with the knowledge of betting, nobody is sure if a match is unscripted.
Pedro Castillo - the Presidential candidate, in Our Brand Is Crisis, Directed by David Gordon Green
Pedro Castillo - the Presidential candidate
When it comes to a national election, millions’, sometimes billions’, future depends on that. A representational democracy is a big gamble, scripted by a few masterminds, touching upon the same areas of human psyche that are moved by glamour, power and money – anything larger than life, is like a big broadway musical, or the biggest Hollywood Epic. It calls for the lifelong suspension of disbelief.

However, unlike Hollywood, it is reality. Our Brand Is Crisis, despite its naivety, attempts at showing us how the world is run.

Readers, please feel free to share your views/opinions in the comment box below. As always your insightful comments are highly appreciated!

References:


Our Brand Is Crisis (2015) Trailer



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