Hugh Jackman stars in The Front Runner, a biographical drama about Senator Gary Hart, who was a shoo-in for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1987. When allegations of an extramarital affair with a young woman named Donna Rice erupted in the newspapers, however, it all fell apart.
Director Jason Reitman's movie is based on Matt Bai's book All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid, questioning where the line between serious journalism and tabloid journalism stands. The film also ponders whether or not an affair has anything to do with Hart's abilities to run the country. These are compelling questions, but the movie doesn't quite dig deep enough.
The performances are all top-notch, especially J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) as Hart's campaign manager Bill Dixon, and Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring) as Hart's wife, Lee. I just wish both Simmons and Farmiga had more screen time. Jackman, as Hart, is very good, but, as written for the film, the character is an enigma. They fail to let us know his stance on important political issues. And what was the extent of his philandering? Maybe the point is to keep it vague, but at least give us a hard look into the issues the film raises.
The Front Runner is certainly not a bad movie. It is compelling and moves at a good clip, but it could have had more bite.