Time: 126 mins.
Genre: Political Drama
Academy Award nominations for Best Actress (Allen) and Best Supporting Actor (Bridges).
I have to say that I'm generally not interested in politics in the real world or onscreen. Even though I know "The West Wing" is probably a great show its writer/producer Aaron Sorkin is brilliant I just can't seem to get motivated to watch. That being said, the main reason I went to see THE CONTENDER is because it was a free screening. I was intrigued by the cast, who are all extremely talented and do good work here, but that still would not have been enough to get my butt in the theater. In the end, THE CONTENDER is an intelligent and interesting look at the internal workings of the political arena. It held my attention, which is saying a lot. Unfortunately, it tells a somewhat sordid tale that is at times way over-the-top about people that aren't very likable. I'm sure their true to life counterparts are even more slimy and manipulative, but it doesn't make for a warm and happy film-going experience.
The basic premise has the President, played by Jeff Bridges, in a quandary about who to nominate for the position of Vice President after the death of the current VP. Everyone is expecting him to name the party up-and-comer, Governor Jack Hathaway, whose public rating is high due to a recent heroic gesture. However, the President goes in a completely different direction, nominating Laine Hanson (Allen), a female senator. He wants his legacy to be progress in the White House and putting a woman in this position will guarantee him a place in history. Laine doesn't seem to care what his reasons are, she's thrilled to be given the chance and is up to the task. She's the only one who believes that. The nominating committee, lead by Congressman Shelley Runyan (Oldman), is less than pleased with the President's choice and is out to make sure that she does not pass the vote. With the help of his fellow committee members they dig up a nasty sex scandal to embarrass Laine and the administration.