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Customer Review

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The "Ayes" Have it, March 12, 2010
This review is from: The Contender (DVD)
A lazy afternoon of fishing suddenly becomes a life and death struggle that will propel a governor to prominence and head a short list of vice presidential candidates to replace the one that just died. But the next surprise is the one who is actually given the nod, a senator from Ohio, Laine Hanson, played by Joan Allen.

This triggers a visceral reaction from Republican Senator Shelly Runyon of Illinois, played by Gary Oldman, who wants to see the passed over candidate, Governor Jack Hathaway, played by William Petersen, get the nod instead of her. As the chairman of the confirmation committee, there is only one thing for him to do--destroy her. Along the way, he enlists the help of a junior Democrat Congressman, Reginald Webster, played by Christian Slater who opposes her nomination for more idealistic reasons. The hearings provide the drama, and the camera takes us to the president, the hearings, the investigation by the FBI, and back to the hearings again. This keeps the story moving at a decent pace, and builds the suspense.

What makes this so good for me is that there are many scenes that I would be willing to see over again, but not all. After all, this is not "The Godfather." Should you see this, please go back to the beginning and note the governor's behavior and movement, and what the first woman in the story mouths to him.

The acting is superb. Senator Runyon reveals a sinister character who has fallen somewhere in the past from the idealistic and moral person his wife married. She sees, with dismay, the change that he does not realize. He plays his part with precise timing, speaking, halting, looking, waiting, baiting, only lacking the accent so identifiable of his home state. Joan Allen is a master at showing a face of barely contained emotion and distress. Jeff Bridges, as President Jackson Evans, is a disarming character who doesn't appear easily vexed in spite of the revelations that come out in the hearings. He takes them in stride, as well as his slight disappointment being unable to catch his White House chefs off-guard or lacking the ingredients for a meal he requests. His affability camouflages his caginess as he challenges once again the man he defeated in the presidential election, Shelly Runyon. A minor but thoroughly believable role was given to Kathryn Morris, playing Paige Willomina, a pony-tailed, cutsey, eye-glass-wearing, nerdy, almost ditzy FBI agent who is as sharp as a tack, and doesn't miss a word or nuance.

The viewer might be unhappy that the noble characters are progressive or that Runyon and his minions are not. You can despise the character of Runyon, without concern for his political persuasion. You can admire Hanson without embracing what she stands for politically. That is the strength of this film. Nevertheless, the movie represents something that is not so far from present-day Washington on both sides of the aisle--putting partisan politics above the good of the country and winning at all costs. Released in 2000, it might be a reflection of the White House and Congress of the last decade with some exaggeration, but ten years later, it might be a reality that no one thought would happen.

Four stars because it will appeal to the political drama afficionado, but as I watched the feminine form on the love seat next to me drift in and out of consciousness, I was reminded that it might not be for all audiences, and she will probably get even by turning on "The Bachelor." That's a terrifying thought.

This might be a story about democracy, but that doesn't mean it is practiced in this apartment.

I vote, "aye" for "The Contender."
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 12, 2010 4:45:05 PM PST
This is a good film review. I would not dare review a film as I know NOTHING about film criticism. This review is well written. When my wife is home, the domestic political system is known as a dictatorship. When she leaves, the system is anarchism.

Posted on Mar 13, 2010 2:01:21 PM PST
Creed says:
I like your tie-in with democracy. Smart and funny! What's wrong with the "Bachelor"? I thought that was every man's secret fantasy. If you are telling me it's not; thank God.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2010 5:04:00 PM PST
I find "The Bachelor" pure torture to watch. I think it brings on dementia of the most chronic kind. It can whip me into a catatonic stupor. I cannot see women debase themselves grovelling for a man, and then cackling about each other. That freakin rose is stupid beyond redemption, as the women stand there hoping they will be chosen by a $14,000 a year pilot. As a bachelor I would be more than willing to give each of them a "test drive," which is about the only thing that isn't done before a camera because a man only needs a place. For me, intelligence, intuition and imagination is the most exciting body part a woman could ever have. It also provides the reason.

Unfornately, you and other facebook friends have been uncovered and exposed on my facebook profile page. Click on the Glenn Beck image and see what I mean. All of you are all over the news.

Posted on Mar 15, 2010 2:06:20 AM PDT
H. Schneider says:
I watched this long before I started polluting the zoo pages with my opinions. I remember that I liked it both for its political content as well as for its entertainment value. I was also luckier that nobody fell asleep next to me, I think.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 19, 2010 3:19:12 PM PDT
Gio says:
Never heard of it, so thanks for the alert. I see that you can buy it cheaper than most places will rent it, so... Pop! In the cart!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 19, 2010 3:21:12 PM PDT
I hope you enjoy it.
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