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    Our Brand is Crisis (2016): Movie Review

    "A half-baked and half-hearted political satire.”

    Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton star as adversary political strategists in Our Brand is Crisis. Directed by David Gordon Green, the film is inspired by Rachel Boynton’s 2005 documentary of the same title about the pretty-messed-up participation of some Americans in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election.

    After a series of failed gigs, “Calamity” Jane Bodine (Bullock) decided to isolate herself by living in a mountain cabin far from any political distractions and began working with her pottery. Suddenly, a knock is heard on her door and two campaign consultants (Anthony Mackie and Ann Dowd) offer her an insane and irresistible proposal. Immediately, Jane finds herself working with them and others (Scott McNairy and Zoe Kazan) to secure the presidential seat for candidate Pedro Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida), a dashing, middle-aged elitist who happens to be the country’s former president. Yet, his polling numbers are pathetic, consistently lagging far behind Rivera (Louis Arcella), a popular bet who is well-dressed, well spoken and the man-of-the-people type. Worse, Rivera got Pat Candy (Thornton) as his adviser, a cunning and devious manipulator who is Jane’s old nemesis. Jane appears lackadaisical at the beginning, but when a citizen smashes an egg on Castillo’s head, she flares up and launches a massive political campaign that overthrows all other candidates. 

    Our Brand is Crisis appears too farcical for a film whose original material incites social awakening. Though set in Bolivia, we learn nothing of importance about the country in the end. Images are striking but it is hard to care about them. This is probably because the film is more focused on warring political figures than the nation’s conditions. It just stands up to its title, that the “crisis” is simply a make-believe thing.

    The movie is also less of an expose but more of a political satire. Humor is plenty and though gags are hilarious, they sometimes strike as distracting and unrealistic. Adding its light dialogues and lack of dynamism and true tension, the film seems half-hearted and superficial. It tries to be sober towards its final act when painful political realities set in. Yet, it feels forced and off, leaving a sense of unease and unfulfillment.

    However, the film remains entirely watchable. Keeping up with its fast pace is its sharp and energetic cast. Bullock is especially superb as she draws both her comedic and serious acting chops to portray a highly volatile character. 

    Our Brand is Crisis just misses an opportunity to be more genuine, truthful and caring about its material. It is not a bad film but it leaves you with a hanging feeling that it could have been more relevant and substantive. 

    Production: Smokehouse Pictures 
    Cast: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Joaquim de Almeida, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy, Zoe Kazan, Dominic Flores, Reynaldo Pacheco, Louis Arcella, Octavio Gomez Berrios, Luis Chavez, Azucena Diaz, Damian Delgado 
    Director: David Gordon Green 
    Screenwriter: Peter Straughan 
    Producers: Grant Heslov, George Clooney 
    Executive producers: Sandra Bullock, Stuart Besser, Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King 
    Director of photography: Tim Orr 
    Production designer: Richard A. Wright 
    Editor: Colin Patton


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