Our Brand is Crisis

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“Our Brand Is Crisis” shows that no matter where else we may have fallen behind, America is still a great exporter of political skulduggery. Based on a 2005 documentary about the 2002 Bolivian presidential election, this slight political dramedy stars Sandra Bullock as Jane Bodine, a fierce campaign strategist who’s flown down to La Paz by Senator Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida), an aloof, unpopular former president trying to achieve a come-from-behind victory. Castillo’s rival has hired Jane’s rival, a smiling Carville-esque weasel named Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton) with whom Jane has a long, bitter, occasionally playful history.

If you prefer a wordier review, here’s the part of the Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider podcast where we reviewed “Our Brand Is Crisis.”

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There are funny moments and crafty maneuvers as Jane and her team (featuring Anthony Mackie, Scoot McNairy, Ann Dowd, and Zoe Kazan) try to guide their candidate to victory, but the film (directed by David Gordon Green) stays grounded in reality, never veering into satire or farce. It might have been better if it had gotten zanier; instead, it’s rather staid and un-risky — until the end, when it takes a turn that might have been effective if it hadn’t come out of nowhere. Still, our love affair with Sandy Bullock continues.

B- (1 hr., 47 min.; R, about two dozen F-words, a couple lines of sexual dialogue.)

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