Overview: An unstable political campaign strategist faces both her personal demons and her toughest competitor when she is compelled to make a resurgence from retirement for a presidential election in Bolivia. Warner Bros. Pictures; 2015; Rated R; 107 minutes.
Calamity Jane: I can think of no other actor who could have pulled off the role of Jane Bodine and still manage to create a character that can be taken seriously. Sandra Bullock’s balance of quirks, that spawn both from the moral qualms she has with the ethics of her work and the levels of her mental instability, require a level of commitment and finesse that only Bullock’s brand of bite can bring to the table. When satirical, black comedies are touching on real, sensitive issues, and particularly when they’re political, there’s a fine line to be drawn between inserting humor and snark and distracting from the thesis of the plot that needs to be driven home, and Bullock dances along this line expertly as Calamity Jane, causing audiences to both balk and pay attention.
A Timely Satire: Peter Straughan’s screenplay showcases the dry wit and earnestness required to translate the political warning message that director David Gordon Green is attempting to send, which is an especially important one to pay attention to as election year is swiftly approaching. The film may center around a Bolivian election, a place where government functionality does not run parallel to America, but the point being made is that, regardless of where you are or what kind of person is behind the podium, political strategic concepts are the same across the board. Our Brand Is Crisis offers the frank message that regardless of a person’s moral compass, the people see the portrait campaigns choose to paint, whether they actually look like the person behind it or not, and the methods by which the painting is achieved is rarely examined if the desired result is achieved.
Tidy Results: The only criticism to be made about this film is the swift and tidy ending. Calamity Jane’s candidate, as expected, doesn’t turn out to be the president she has promised him to be. And although she is inspired to switch gears and fight on the other side of the stage, we don’t get to stick around and see how she climbs to the top the right way, or how the people of Bolivia handle the fallout. Once the results and the message are delivered, Our Brand Is Crisis wraps its story up in a tidy bow for the viewers, abandoning wreckage for a sense of vindication and victory.
Overall: Although the conclusion all but abandons the goals the film sets out to achieve, Our Brand Is Crisis is a smart, timely satire that addresses the state of politics today with a healthy mix of criticism and comedy.