© Warner Bros. Pictures Germany

Die Wahlkämpferin (Our Brand Is Crisis)
U.S.A. 2015

Opening 21 Jan 2016

Directed by: David Gordon Green
Writing credits: Peter Straughan, Rachel Boynton
Principal actors: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Joaquim de Almeida, Ann Dowd

The German title translates to “campaign manager” and “Calamity” Jane Bodine (Bullock) is famous for her unusual, but successful, methods in this job. She flies to Bolivia to build up presidential candidate Señor Castillo. She is not amused to find her arch enemy, Pat Candy (Thornton), working for the opposition. Each candidate, surrounded by a committee of campaign experts, is obnoxious in his own way. Naturally the committees strive to find the weaknesses in the opposition and attempt to hide the idiocies of their own candidates. They work into the night, with rounds and rounds of policy planning and crisis solving. They talk about the “Bush smile” or “smirk.” Eggs are thrown; a llama dies; rumors spread.

Here, Americans are hired to support Bolivian presidential candidates, but this South American country just serves as a mirror of a universal situation, since human nature is the same everywhere. If Sasha Baron Coen had been in charge, it would have been a fictitious country and have had the same impact. Sandra Bullock looks wonderful, not a wrinkle anywhere, and is back in full form after her successful film Gravity. Billy Bob Thornton does not disappoint with his own repeated version of a smirk, recognizable from past films. Reynaldo Pacheco plays Eddie, a naïve young boy from a poor area, who volunteers as an election helper. Pacheco is a native of Bolivia, but has had extensive experience acting around the world.

The film will certainly find fans in the U.S., which is currently suffering the throes of election mania. Many of the slings will seem familiar. Also, the U.S. Spanish population might enjoy the fact that the film, in its original version, is in English and Spanish with English subtitles. German viewers might see it with different eyes, although as I said, human nature is the same everywhere. In the end Jane realizes her role in cooperating with the dregs of society. She and Eddie march off with a new goal and say, “What are you going to do if you don’t like the road you are on? Start paving another one.” Filmed in Bolivia and Puerto Rico. (Becky Tan)

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