Little seen but excellent, THE FRONT RUNNER is a fascinating peek at three tumultuous weeks in Gary Hart's presidential campaign in 1987.
Hugh Jackman (The Greatest Showman, XMen) is terrific as Hart, capturing his charisma and sincerity, along with his seemingly clueless infidelity.
Hart's portrayed as a man of conviction and strong beliefs, caught at the moment when a candidate's personal indiscretions (Kennedy, Johnson) shifted from off the record to daily doses of insatiable paparazzi.
Vera Farmiga (Up In The Air, Bates Motel) is very good as Hart's long suffering wife Lee, JK Simmons (Whiplash, LaLaLand) is hilarious and powerful as Hart's campaign manager and Alfred Molina is terrific as Ben Bradlee.
It's fascinating to watch Hart's passionate pitch that his personal life is his own business. Knowing that he went from front runner for the Democratic nomination to out of the race in the three weeks depicted in the film gives Director Jason Reitman (Up In the Air, Juno) a sense of urgency that drives the story.
For a film that takes place mostly in hotels, bedrooms, newsrooms and political headquarters, it moves like a thriller.
Jackman is very good in the role, never generating sympathy but making you feel the ground moving quickly under Hart's feet after his affair with Donna Rice (Sara Paxton) is revealed.
The only false note in the film is the shoehorned in messaging of reporter AJ Parker (Mamoudou Athie) as he first defends Hart and then seems to morph into a social warrior over night. A false note in an otherwise powerful film.
With a great cast, THE FRONT RUNNER is a fascinating look behind the curtain at the moment TMZ was born. It's interesting post film to relate it to our current political climate and state of the media.
What times we live in.
THE FRONT RUNNER gets a B.