When you have a movie fictionally based on a real-life documentary, things start getting complicated, and that was the primary issue I faced while watching Our Brand Is Crisis (2015).
The Plot: Based on the 2005 documentary of the same name, the film deals with a retired American political consultant, and how she must take part in another election, helping a Bolivian presidential candidate this time around.
The Good and The Bad: Sandra Bullock plays the main character the best way she can. She’s no Miss Congeniality here but she tries to put magic into a script with nothing much to offer. We have talented actors like Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Scoot McNairy and Joaquim de Almeida, with director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Joe) giving them all enough screen-time to succeed.
But the problem always lies in this form of political satire. It just isn’t for everyone. The comic parts of Our Brand Is Crisis are worth a laugh or two but if a viewer used word-of-mouth to spread them, they won’t even come across as half-funny.
The script by Peter Straughan showcased his flair for funny dialogue as with 2009’s The Men Who Stare at Goats, but here the humor does nothing but move along the running time of 107 minutes as swiftly as possible.
Bullock’s character Jane Bodine AKA Calamity Jane is fun to watch, and her personality is dramatized well, but the viewer can’t relate with what she wants. I liked how the love-hate relationship with Thornton’s character Pat Candy, who is on the opposing team, was depicted throughout the venture. Yet, these scenes are nothing but comic relief without any underlying strength.
The paramount sequences were those that Bullock shared with the main presidential candidate Pedro Castillo, played exceptionally well by Almeida, and how these two individuals did or did not get along in the feature were the most entertaining parts, as they illustrated both humor and strength in the undertone of the screenplay.
Despite the first and second acts being written poorly, the third act really redeemed the picture, yet veterans of watching this genre, or most comedies, would have guessed that the emotional impact would have definitely been in the conclusion.
And that is what really turns you off at some parts. Calamity Jane’s tactics are just too predictable that they seem to make the overall cinematic experience taken for granted. If Our Brand Is Crisis was more about her overcoming her professional shortcomings in accordance with the major storyline, and not the continuous discourses with Pat Candy, then this might’ve been a outstanding flick.
The Verdict: In a way, Our Brand Is Crisis does live up to its title, by being a dilemma in its genre, and proving that Hollywood needs to churn out better satirical takes on politics in the near future.