Grade: C+


Directed by David Gordon Green

Starring Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Reynaldo Pacheco

Anyone who knows me knows I have an affinity for, basically, any Sandra Bullock film. She's America's Sweetheart for a reason and her friendly demeanor makes it easy to connect with any character she plays. But, despite liking her, it doesn't mean she can't get caught in the midst of a mediocre film, as is the case with Our Brand is Crisis, a film by David Gordon Green that suffers from an identity crisis, among other things.

Bullock stars as Jane, a mostly-retired political campaign strategist called to action in a last-minute campaign in Bolivia. What drives her to accept a position she so vehemently gave up years earlier is the fact that it's an opportunity to face her toughest professional rival one last time, Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton). With a personal vendetta in hand, Jane travels to Bolivia and spices up the political race while finding herself.

The synopsis may seem a bit simple or complacent, but that's because it is. There is obviously a lot more that happens, like meeting and somewhat getting to know the politicians at hand and the Bolivian people with whom the election most closely connects, but we barely get to experience any of these things due to the magnitude of editing mess Green offers. There are a few interesting moments, when the plot begins to really take form, but we're left wanting more as they quickly jump to the next out of place slapstick moment.

The comedy is the most questionable attribute in the entire film. While there are justifiable laugh-out-loud moments (Bullock mooning Thornton and a llama getting hit by a car, to name a couple), the set-up for these moments takes so much of the film's time that we're left with pieces of a comedy and pieces of a political drama but no complete film.

The few shining lights are the performances by Bullock, who could have conquered a successful Oscar campaign had the film lived up to its realistic political drama themes, and relative newcomer Reynaldo Pacheco, who plays a campaign intern who lives in the Bolivian slums. It's moments between the two that speak the most to the heart of the story, but we're rarely served these moments.

Based on the documentary of the same name, Our Brand is Crisis isn't necessarily a horrible film. There are moments that work and the message of the film is a good one. Unfortunately, we have to muddle through comedic flair used to possibly punch up the story enough to make it "mainstream," but keeps it from any type of prestige. It's a shame.

Rating: R

Runtime: 107 minutes

© 2018 by Scottie Knollin.