Mr. Movie

Great acting in a sort of true story in ‘Our Brand is Crisis’

Gary Wolcott

Mr. Movie

Billy Bob Thornton plays Pat Candy and Sandra Bullock plays Jane in Our Brand is Crisis.
Billy Bob Thornton plays Pat Candy and Sandra Bullock plays Jane in Our Brand is Crisis. Warner Bros. Pictures

In 2002, Rachel Boynton covered Bolivia’s presidential election. She made a documentary with the same name as this movie. This version of Our Brand is Crisis is a fictionalized account of the election. Only the names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent. In real life, the election influencer was Bill and Hilary Clinton’s election-guru buddy James Carville.

He’s played nicely by Billy Bob Thornton, whose head is shaved to look like Carville. Sandra Bullock is his election nemesis and the film’s main character. In real life, she didn’t exist.

The movie does cover the complaints lodged by Boynton in her documentary and shows how two rival spinmeisters position their candidates by playing politics via dirty tricks. Other tactics are the manipulation of the media and of the masses. The “warning” is that these are techniques that have been polished to perfection in the U.S. and are being exported globally.

Our Brand is Crisis is pretty good movie and one that gives Bullock the rare chance to stretch as an actress. She’s moody, funny and distracted, and perfectly cast as the foil to Thornton’s Carville clone.

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Our Brand is Crisis

Director: David Gordon Green

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Joaquim de Almeida, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy, Zoe Kazan, Renaldo Pachero

Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars

Rated R for mature themes, language, some violence. It’s playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.