Thursday, February 28, 2013

THE CONTENDER (2000) 2/28/13

Recently Verizon raised my FIOS rates by an incredibly large percentage after their two-year contract expired; shortly thereafter the company offered me the “lure” of 3 months of free HBO. Tonight, I was in the mood to switch on the TV and felt mildly - but only mildly - compensated for Verizon’s greed, after seeing a 2000 film entitled The Contender directed by Rod Lurie depicting a fictional “progressive” President Jackson Evans”s (Jeff Bridges) nomination of a woman, Senator Laine Hanson (Joan Allen) to be Vice President of the US, filling a vacancy after the former Veep suddenly dies. We observe the candidate’s confirmation hearings and are shown how the system is perverted through innuendo and outright lies.

This movie reveals the underpinnings of the nomination process focusing on the particularly vicious political maneuvering against a woman candidate.  By now most of us have watched confirmation sessions and we are familiar with the hollow moral righteousness of the political players. In The Contender the treatment of the female candidate is strewn with double standards that no male nominee would ever have to endure.

There is an idealistic tenor to this film that might be considered too sentimental and sappy, but in fact stirred me deeply. Joan Allen, a wonderful actor in another impressive performance portrays a woman who will not be deterred from her deep-rooted principles displaying a stoic dignity in the face of the opposition party’s attempts to defame her character. She is a person who understands and respects herself and that is the crux of her mettle. What made this more than just another Hollywood film was Joan Allen’s incorruptible grandeur, her dialogue often stunned me with its simple truths.

One last point - I don’t want to forget to mention that the “conservative” opposition is led by the imposing actor Gary Oldman who can bring humanity to even the lowest of cockroaches.

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