Home Video | Review by Dan Taylor
I've watched this flick a
half-dozen times over the past decade and
I always come away impressed. Director Michael
Ritchie, screenwriter Jeremy Larner and
star Robert Redford create such a believable
portrait of a politician's "birth"
that it speaks volumes about our political
process. In the long run it's about how
an idealist can even become seduced by the
potential for power.
Bill McKay -- son of a gubernatorial legend
(Melvyn Douglas playing the character as
just this side of Satan) -- is a
legal eagle do-gooder using his skills (and
groovy 70s sideburns) to help those less
fortunate. It's a role that plays right
into Bobbo's real-world lifestyle. When
campaign manager Peter Boyle enters his
life and promises a shot at running a hip,
young campaign built on real issues, McKay
But, instead of depicting
a handsome good-guy winging his way to the
Senate on a platform of charm, ideals and
freak power, THE CANDIDATE takes a different
turn. (If the movie were made today Harrison
Ford would play the character as the only
political saint in the history of American
politics who runs his campaign HIS WAY without
outside influence...yawn.) While
McKay gains ground on his entrenched, incumbent
opponent (Don Porter as the Reagan-esque
Sen. Crocker Jarmon), his ideals and views
on issues mutate from heartfelt stances
into cliche soundbites that appeal to the
masses, but alienate those who believed
in his vision.
By film's end McKay is simply
another adulterous politician seduced by
the spotlight, unsure of how to proceed.
I've always loved the helpless look on his
face when he asks Boyle (who is also great
in the flick), "What do we do now...?"
His stances stand for nothing, they're simply
fluff that sounds good on the evening news.
Not only is this the type
of film Hollywood won't make any more, it's
also the type of role Redford turned his
back on years ago. Now he casts himself
as a still-handsome leading man who is irresistible
to women 10, 15, 25 years his junior (Lena
Olin in HAVANA, Demi Moore in INDECENT PROPOSAL,
Michelle Pfieffer in UP CLOSE & PERSONAL).
Hell, in this election year,
this is certainly one of the best political
films you can gear up with. Though produced
during a gentler political age, THE CANDIDATE
still packs a powerful wallop.