Our Brand is Crisis review: Sandra Bullock props up this darkly comic political satire

 
Steve Hogarty
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Sandra Bullock as Jane Bodine in Our Brand is Crisis

Dir. David Gordon Green | ★★★☆☆

Retired political campaign strategist turned kooky pot-spinning hermit Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock) is coaxed back into the electioneering racket for one last, career-defining escapade. Her mission? Transform the fortunes of a down-in-the-polls Bolivian presidential hopeful, whose previous corruption-sullied term still sticks in the memory of the downtrodden electorate.

A black comedy that tracks the often-sinister finagling that goes into election campaigns, Our Brand is Crisis is propelled by Bullock’s neurotic and cynical Bodine. She powers up slowly, sullenly trudging out to Bolivia to meet her campaign team almost against her will. But once she gets wind that her old rival Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton) is successfully running the frontrunner’s campaign, she becomes newly energised.

Snapping into action when her flagging candidate is splatted by a Thornton-orchestrated egg, the now personally invested Bodine kicks down a dozen meeting room doors and spins out a stream of radical new campaign ideas like it ain’t no thing. A few montages shift the film up a gear or two, and the fight becomes more about the chicanery of the warring American strategists as it is about the candidates themselves.

It’s based on a true story – the name has been lifted from a 2005 documentary on the subject – but as a friendly drama-comedy Our Brand is Crisis steers clear of the hard politics behind the event. Instead, Bullock is left to free-wheel about the screen in what’s essentially a whimsical electoral crusade.

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