Electoral Circus On-Screen

Samantha Thea D. Abiera

American director David Gordon Green’s film Our Brand Is Crisis exposes the strategies used by political campaigns in 2002. It is an adaption of the political documentary of the same name released in 2005 and tells the story of an American political strategist who worked on the Bolivian presidential campaign in 2002 that helped the country win the election.

The story begins with a brilliant political strategist, “Calamity Jane” Bodine (Sandra Bullock), coming out of uncoerced retirement to beat her professional archenemy, Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton), who happened to be working for the opposition. Jane Bodine was hired by the Bolivian presidential candidate, Castillo (Joaquim de Almedia)— by the time Bodine came into the picture, he was close to losing the presidential race against Rivera (Louis Arcella), who was on the top of the polls.

The way Green directed the film was exceptional as it has taken into account the role of political strategist in electoral campaigns through the characters of Jane Bodine and Pat Candy. Despite being shot in 2015, the production design made it look like it was shot in the early 20s when the actual events took place. The first few scenes have shown how tough the competition was between two electoral candidates and how far the strategist would go to make their clients win. It was directed in a way that even a person who is not interested in politics would understand and see how it really works.

The way Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton portrayed their roles was amazing in such that even the audiences could feel the tension between the two characters and get excited whenever each of them pulled a stunt that would destroy each other. The competition between the two went down-and-dirty in such that professionalism and ethics have been disregarded revealing the ugly truth behind politics.

Furthermore, the video emphasizes that Almedia’s branding was his toughness, which resulted in the coining of the phrase “The Brand Is Crisis.” As a result, the plan was to persuade the public that, no matter what fights or crises the country faces, presidential candidate Castillo is uniquely qualified to fight for the people because of his characteristics.

Apart from that, the film’s historical context is pertinent and relevant in today’s world, particularly with the type of administration that the Philippines is currently under. Filipinos voted in the country’s 2016 presidential elections for a leader who many will fear and feel terrified by, without considering the consequences for the country and its population. The fact that the 2022 Presidential elections are approaching, and that the contenders are already heavily campaigning as early as now, has provided us with an insight into what presidential campaigns are often like.

“A leader must be a father to his people. I’ve always believed that. Sometimes, a father has to be strict with their children for their own good. Those people back there, they don’t understand that,” said Castillo to one of his campaign volunteers, Eduardo (Reynaldo Pacheco), after speaking with the indigenous people of the country protesting against him.

As the film ended with Castillo winning the campaign elections and people protesting against him on his first day as the President of Bolivia as he failed to keep his promise to his people--the fate of most elected officials, the movie is definitely a must-watch. It does not only show the reality of politics, how they work, but it also shows the consequences of poor decision-making in selecting the people to put in position on.

Published: April 25, 2022