TIFF Review: Our Brand Is Crisis
Michael Tran/ Taylor Hill/ Jason Merritt/ George Pimentel/ Kevin Winter/ Getty Images
This f*cking movie. I hate this movie. It’s cynical garbage motivated solely by Sandra Bullock’s desire to win another Oscar. You know she’s in Oscar-mode because she’s gone blonde, just like she did for The Blind Side. I have a high threshold of pain when it comes to bad movies, and even a bad movie can be entertaining, but there is nothing entertaining about watching a movie so devoid of personality as this. Our Brand is Crisis is the movie equivalent of an automated phone call—press one for quirky heroine, press two for naïve youth who inspires her, press three if you’d like a happy, redemptive ending, press four if this movie makes you want to set your eyeballs on fire.
Bullock stars as “Calamity” Jane Bodine, a political advisor who is both legendarily good at her job and so legendarily bad at it they call her “Calamity”. (YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.) By the time we meet her Jane has retired from politics and is living in the backwoods, making pottery. (OF COURSE SHE IS.) She especially likes making medicine bowls, and she carries one of her clay medicine bowls everywhere with her. (OF COURSE SHE DOES.) An old colleague shows up to recruit her to help with a presidential campaign in Bolivia, because she’s good enough to save their dead-horse campaign but bad enough to take the blame if they lose anyway. (THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.) Jane, despite forging a tolerable life for herself away from politics, goes with them to Bolivia because movie.
In Bolivia, Jane works on the campaign of Castillo, a one-time president who is unpopular with his people, seen as part of the removed, wealthy ruling class and divorced from the interest of the common Bolivian man. Also in Bolivia is Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton with a penis-head), Jane’s rival, who calls her “honey” and “sweetheart” and obviously wants to bone her but the movie has some small mercy because it skips the otherwise obligatory “ill-advised one night stand” scene. (We are, however, treated to a “drunken night out” scene, and a “bailed out of jail” scene.) Jane and Candy are bound by a rumor, the truth of which is so f*cking obvious from the moment it’s introduced I almost groaned out loud during the reveal. And there is of course a Naïve Youth on hand to remind Jane of the human consequences of her ruthless campaigns.
Directed by David Gordon Green in “collect paycheck” mode, Crisis wants to be a scathing political satire, except it has no concept of the words “scathing”, “political”, or “satire”. Instead of satire we get a random high-altitude bus chases right out of a Fast/Furious movie, Sandra Bullock mooning people (OSCAR, DAMMIT!), wacky hijinks like a car running over a llama, and a white savior coda that reassures the audience that Latin America will totally be ok because the nice white blonde lady is here to fix it as only she can. There’s also a scene in which Jane uses the title of the film in dialogue, and it is at that point that I wanted to punch this movie in the face. Everyone around me was enjoying it, though, which only made me want to punch their faces, too, and the guy next to me actually clapped when it was over. I was tempted to reach over and break every bone in his hands so that he could never clap again.
There is nothing genuine or sincere about this movie—it doesn’t even exist for entertainment purposes. It just exists to Collect Awards and for that it deserves nothing. But I know that, even undeserving as it is, there will be some reward, from the box office at least, because the world is a cold, unfeeling place that rewards the best shills, and this is the best shill of a movie I’ve seen in a long time. Our Brand is Crisis is the worst kind of patronizing garbage bullsh*t. Man, f*ck this f*cking movie. So hard.