Our Brand is Crisis: Film Review

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Our Brand is Crisis was released in October in the U.S. to the lowest box office takings of Sandra Bullock’s career and a complete mauling from the critics so I did not expect much from this political comedy-drama. It is honestly not as bad as everyone is making out. Sure, it has a lot of problems but I still found it entertaining and interesting.

Bullock plays Jane, a political consultant who is persuaded to come out of retirement to help politician Pedro Castillo win the 2002 Bolivian Presidential election. He is seriously flagging in the polls and she must turn his campaign around, but is constantly hindered by her rival and lifetime nemesis Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton), who is working for the leading opposition politician.

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I love Bullock and I think her performance here is great and it plays to her strengths. Jane is neurotic, cynical and uncaring about her appearance, which reminds me of a few characters Bullock has played before, and her genius comedy timing is employed once again. I buy her character and even though she is pretty mean and cold, I still want her to win over Candy, who is a total slimeball.

The main problem is the comedy-drama balance. This would have worked better as a dark political satire because all the ingredients were there – the dirty campaigns, how they manipulate politicians into becoming a puppet for their narrative and the false promises they make to their people. I found this cynicism interesting, but there a slapstick moments which detract from that serious tone and are simply confusing. Why are they there? I don’t think the subject matter lends itself to comedy and those elements should not have been included because it muddies the tone and the message. I would have liked this more if it had been played straight, or gone 100% comedic because it doesn’t work trying to mix the two.

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The ending was also an issue. I presumed it would come to a resolution following the outcome of the election but there is like an extra 15-20 minutes which are very sentimental and cheesy, so I just wish that wasn’t there so it could have a stronger finish and impact.

I don’t want to make out like this is awful because it really isn’t – there are some brilliant comedy moments and some genuinely exciting, dramatic scenes. But it feels tonally very messy and it would have been a stronger film if it had gone fully comedy or drama. Bullock still gives a strong performance and her supporting cast of Anthony Mackie, Scott McNairy, Ann Dowd and Zoe Kazan are great too. It is just the film as a whole. However, it is never boring and is actually quite an enjoyable ride, so don’t lose all hope for it.

In cinemas now 

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