Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
France/United Kingdom/Germany/USA/Japan, 1998. Award Entertainment, British Broadcasting Corporation, Icarus Productions, Marubeni, Mutual Film Company, Tele Munchen Fernseh Produktionsgesellschaft, Toho-Towa, UGC PH, Universal Pictures. Screenplay by Elaine May, based on the novel by Joe Klein. Cinematography by Michael Ballhaus. Produced by Mike Nichols. Music by Ry Cooder. Production Design by Bo Welch. Costume Design by Gary Jones, Ann Roth. Film Editing by Arthur Schmidt. Academy Awards 1998. Golden Globe Awards 1998. Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 1998. Online Film Critics Awards 1998.
Based on the tell-all book by “Anonymous” (actually Joe Klein), Elaine May’s excellent script fictionalizes the Clintons’ primary race towards the Oval Office. Presidential candidate Jack Stanton (John Travolta) is a womanizing manipulator who is still capable of being a great leader and worthy of admiration no matter what his personal faults, while Emma Thompson is compelling as the woman everyone feels runs the whole show because is just the only one on the team with a conscience; while Jack eases his way through everything with characteristic aplomb, Thompson’s Susan Stanton is constantly keeping her eye on the ball, taking Jack’s sins upon herself and eventually suffering for them. Adrian Lester is brilliant as the new political aide brought on to the campaign, through whom we view the whole story, and Kathy Bates is sheer delight as the dirty-mouthed moral dust-buster with a more sensitive heart than at first it seems. Mike Nichols’ direction is perfect, and the film should be regarded in the future as an undeniable classic.