What I'm Watching: The Contender (2000)

Posted by Solace In Hunger

With the aftermath of the elections still fresh in our memories and recent talks of bailouts, economic stimuli and what our country is to do with Iran and Afghanistan become evermore inescapable I scoured the collection for a political thriller which brought this film to light. Plus it was an excuse to view another film with my favorite actor Gary Oldman. =o)

I liked how the film skirted with intention ambiguities and that nobody was truly who you thought of them to be. I am still amazed of how compelling Mr. Oldman's swarmy Republican McCarthy-esque Shelly Runyon is despite a very ugly hairpiece. Though the idea of electing a woman to the highest level of office has yet to become a reality, it has lost its one time characteristic of absurdity by the public since I had seen the film the first time upon its release. The large impact from this that pushed each camp in the driving or pushing Joan Allen's character into office had lessened on me. However, towards the end I began to feel force fed in the idea that Democrats are the embodiment of what is just with the land with Republicans seeking ruin upon those who do not follow a select strict moral faith. All this capped off with some preaching of integrity and the sell out ending that would either arouse vindication or contempt depending on one's political leaning.

Reports I read later on alluded to a supposed rift between Gary Oldman and his agent who were producers on the film and the execs at Dreamworks who distributed the picture. Apparently, the original script was much more grey and Oldman's Republican villain given a much more human side. When Democratic supporters and Dreamwork exec's Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen reviewed the first set of cuts with writer/director Rod Lurie, changes were alleged the make the film slanted as we see it today. Also, the release date was moved nearly a month before the 2000 presidential elections.

Perhaps I may come off as depicting Democrats as pushing propaganda, but let it be known that this author is a Democrat himself and that I believe that BOTH sides are guilty of it. I am sure that other people on both ends of the spectrum are not too proud of people in their own party who seem blinded by their own ideals at the cost of what is truly progressive for their fellow citizens. It is just that I wanted that first cut that was more grey. I wanted that film that would leave the theatre silent at the end of the credits because I was not forced into any direction. Perhaps it delves into a deeper desire the see the reemergence of the endings of the films in the 70's that just left you in the dark except for an experience that became good or bad from your own interpretation of the events.

Wow, I didn't plan to write this much...

The Contender on Internet Movie Database