The Contender

Maybe the best story about America with the least amount of American flag waving ever. The favourite for the party to replace the recently dead Vice President is senator Lane Hansen (Allen). Opposition confirmation committee chairman Sheldon Runyon (Oldman) takes issue with her, aiming to get his own candidate in. He wages a discreditation war to keep her from office, based on alleged sexual antics from her college days.

The fight between the conservative camp trying to assassinate her character and the White House trying to get her into the job is as deft a portrayal of big scale political power as has ever been seen on screen, both sides using the various hearings, committees and meetings as their battleground.

A completely humourless and totally brilliant satire of the machinations of modern politics in the celebrity age, made all the more real not just because of the realistic characters, but the actors who play them. Allen plays a reserved, dignified politician fighting for her right to do her job despite her gender. Bridges is (as always) brilliant as the savvy political schemer President cashing in on his buffoon image for popularity.

And the big pleasure is seeing Gary Oldman play a fifty-something, conservative, southern American senator as good or better than any actor alive today could. Every performance is faultless and every line is fautlessly delivered and drives an intriguing and stark modern parable for our age.

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