The true story of presidential candidate Gary Hart, who had a
commanding lead until he was caught in an adultery scandal in 1987.
The Front Runner (2018)
Directed by Jason Reitman
Written by Matt Bai, Jay Carson, Jason Reitman
Starring Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons, Chris Coy, Molly Ephraim, Mark O'Brien, Alfred Molina, Bill Burr,
Steve Zissis, Mamoudou Athie, Sara Paxton
Based on the book All The Truth Is Out by Matt Bai
The saddest part of Gary Hart's story is that he likely would've made a terrific president. He had a good head for leadership and he cared about the future of the United States. But he wasn't a good man. He was a liar, a cheat, and placed his own selfish needs before the election. He sacrificed his chance to be president so he could cheat on his wife, and it's something he will never live down. Jason Reitman's The Front Runner tells the story of Gary Hart's rise and fall with a commanding performance from Hugh Jackman and a surprising amount of middle ground.
Gary Hart was the only politician in the news in 1987. He was the likely choice for the Democratic nomination and people loved him. He wasn't a stuffed shirt like other politicians. He was in his late 40's, connected with young people, and knew exactly what to say. But then he was caught in a love affair with Donna Rice, and everything went to hell in a hand-basket faster than you can say Lewinsky. Despite Hart's insistence that the public would only care about the issues rather than his scandal (fat chance), he was forced to drop out of the race after more allegations arose and the public lost all trust in him. The film does a great job of showing the decline of Hart's campaign, as well as the wedge it drove between Hart and his wife Lee (Vera Farmiga).
The Front Runner tells an interesting story about modern American politics that I never knew about. Often times, we forget all about the one who lost the race, and we never give a second glance to the ones who lose the primaries. But Gary Hart was the first time a politician was scrutinized and crushed due to a sex scandal. It was the first time that the tabloids influenced American voters in a serious way, and it foreshadowed a lot of what's happened to politics today. At the end, Jackman's Hart gives a speech about this very idea, that politics is on its way to becoming akin to pro-wrestling. It's too late to stop it now, but maybe we should take a page from Hart's book and focus on the future, instead of rolling around in the muck of sensationalism.