Friday, May 26, 2017

Primary Colors

A idealistic, small-time staffer (Adrian Lester) is recruited to join the Presidential campaign of a magnetic Democratic Southern governor (John Travolta) and, after quickly believing he may be the real deal, signs on as campaign manager and even more rapidly finds himself covering up his new boss' sexual escapades. When their opponent unexpectedly (and fortuitously) exits the race, an old hand politico (Larry Hagman) steps in, galvanizes his position, and leads the campaign on a muck finding mission led by a deranged but brilliant former ally (Kathy Bates) which leads to dark, compromising places of the American political abyss. Based on a novel by Joe Klein (originally published under Anonymous) detailing Bill Clinton's 1992 run, Primary Colors is an exemplary political satire. With a funny, adept, and ultimately sorrowful script by Elaine May and sharp direction from Mike Nichols, the film knows its territory and contains deeply invested, humanized characters. Travolta's performance is one of his best, Emma Thompson is excellent as the Hillary cipher, Billy Bob Thronton hilarious in the James Carville role, and Bates and Hagman both heartrending in standout performances.
*** 1/2 out of ****