EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|POWER (director: Sidney Lumet; screenwriter: David Himmelstein; cinematographer: Andrzej Bartkowiak; editor: Andrew Mondshein; music: Cy Coleman; cast: Richard Gere (Pete St. John), Julie Christie (Ellen Freeman), Gene Hackman (Wilfred Buckley), Denzel Washington (Arnold Billings), E. G. Marshall (Senator Sam Hastings), Kate Capshaw (Sydney Betterman), Beatrice Straight (Claire Hastings), Fritz Weaver (Wallace Furman, governor candidate in New Mexico), J.T. Walsh (Jerome Cade, running for senator in Ohio), Michael Learned (Gov. Andrea Standard of Washington), Matt Salinger (Phillip Aarons, Independent Ohio Senatorial Candidate), Tom Mardirosian (Sheikh); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Reene Schisgal/Mark Tarlov; Warners; 1986)|
|"A misfire satire that preaches
against slick political
practices by high-powered political consultants."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A misfire satire that preaches against slick political
practices by high-powered political consultants, which seems
disingenuous since the film doesn't practice what it preaches (even if
the filmmaker's heart is in the right place and his concern is for the
public's welfare, the film is as slick and artificial as the political
consultants it exposes). It covers such things as the corruption in the
media and how easy it
is to fool the public by
packaging a candidate (not anything that should be
surprising, unless you've been living in Mars for the last 50 years).
It's written by David Himmelstein
and directed by Sidney
("The Verdict"/"12 Angry Men"/"Serpico") as if it had the
latest scoop on the Beltway and couldn't wait to get it off their
chest. Unfortunately their news is old news.
Pete St. John (Richard Gere)
is an unprincipled high-priced
consultant for any politician, if he's got
the dough to pay for his polished services. Through Pete's shark-like
we watch him try to prop up a stiff newcomer millionaire gubernatioral
candidate in New Mexico named Furman (Fritz Weaver), win re-election for Washington's
stalwart governor Andrea Standard (Michael Learned) with smart
political ads, and when his beloved difference maker client Senator Sam
Hastings (E. G.
Marshall) doesn't run for office again in
Ohio--Pete is hired to be the political consultant for suspicious
industrialist newcomer Jerome Cade (J.T. Walsh). He's running to replace Hastings, but
with a different energy policy and is backed secretly by the Arab oil
Washington) works for the Arab oilmen sheiks and they are motivated to
get their man Cade in office so he can do their bidding and are willing
to use all the dirty tricks in the trade to get him elected.
As expected Pete's cynicism
is lost before the third reel ends when he finds he can't stomach
working for the unethical Cade and quits, supposedly returning to his
idealistic roots as he now supports his hard-luck principled consultant mentor Wilfred
Buckley (Gene Hackman). He's someone Pete abandoned to become rich, but
now backs his mentor's long-shot
independent idealistic and solar energy supporter Ohio senatorial
candidate Professor Arons (Matt Salinger). Unfortunately
is convincing in this shoddily made film that squanders its
talented all-star cast with inconsequential roles. The most wasted
talent is Julie Christie, who sits around in a few scenes as Gere's
ex-wife investigative journalist and shoots the breeze with her ex.
Despite coming up with the scandal story of the election year, the
soft-hearted Christie decides to sit on that story to protect
Hastings' honorable reputation and stays around for the rest of the
pic to befriend Gere and, perhaps, show us that all divorces don't have
to end with ill-feelings.
In the end, everything it set
up politically falls apart because its storyline is weak, its direction
is uncertain, and its political lessons come off as sanctimonious mush.
It's nevertheless, maybe, enjoyable for those who think most
politicians are horse's asses.
REVIEWED ON 4/29/2011 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ