Like Jason Reitman, I’m old enough to remember hearing the names ‘Gary Hart’ and ‘Donna Rice’ on the news, but way too young to have any context for it at the time. ‘The Front Runner’ makes its case as one of those ‘pop culture turning points’ where our obsessions with the personal lives of public figures makes some of our best and brightest hesitate from putting themselves into high profile positions.
Hugh Jackman’s bonafides are untouchable now: iconic superhero, more than hold his own as a song and dance man. So it’s cool in a ‘what can this guy not do?’ kind of way to watch him play a character who is trying a little too hard/ a little too defensive about hiding a major ‘flaw’ in his personality.
As has become the norm with Reitman at this point of his filmography, the supporting cast is a treasure trove of actors he’s worked with before (Vera Famiga, J.K. Simmons) and other character actor heavyweights (Alfred Molina) who fill out the cast and get the audience to question what is the ‘right answer’? Does the media spend too much time on frivolous stuff? If someone has a history of questionable judgment in their personal life, does that automatically mean they’d be a terrible leader or lack professionalism?
‘The Front Runner’ asks the questions but doesn’t give the answers. Thoughtful but not overly serious (the Reitman style).