The Candidate (1972)
8/10
Still quite relevant 46 years later
12 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This film serves up a timeless lesson in how elected officials run for office. On photo ops. On the brains of obsessed campaign managers. On mindless debates. On advertisements. On looks. On quips. On handshakes.

Redford hits just the right frequency here as a would-be politician who is actually too smart to be an elected official, but dumb enough to relent to the hype that gets him elected. The study reveals how a ground-swell of tornado-like activity sweeps up a political evangelist and his band of followers. What is most noteworthy here is the contest--a contest of rivals, a contest of wills, a contest of messages. Never mind what the messengers are actually SAYING or what they actual BELIEVE. It's all about which message resonates the loudest with the most voters.

In keeping with Redford's portrayal of a similar anti-hero, Hubble Gardner in the Way We Were, one sees how things really can come too easily to a man who is all style and no substance. The overwhelming theme is The Great Big Lie. The lie politicians tell us. The lies they tell themselves. They lies they tell their wives. The lies they tell their staff. The lies they invent for the media. The lies their devoted followers believe. We all want desperately to believe in someone for the public good. In something for the public good. Here is an example of why no political figure can ever live up to the hype they invent. The last scene of Redford holed up after his win with his campaign manager (brilliantly portrayed by Boyle) yelling something like, "What do we do now?" is the frightening reality of winning campaigns that ultimately cause the candidates to lose themselves and their direction.
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