The Candidate Reviews
Robert Redford, with his natural sense of integrity and propriety, is at his best in this film because we get to see that integrity slowly crumble. The change is subtle -- sometimes too subtle, to the point that the film's plot isn't fully realized -- but it's there. The film's plot follows McKay's campaign, and as the process of getting elected strips McKay of his principles, the political process is appropriately satirized. The best part of the film is the famous last line: "What do we do now?" which is a quote echoed by many a modern politician.
Overall, while I think the film's subtlety worked against it at points, the overall message is ahead of its time.
Nevertheless, it's a well-made and well-written political comedy about a young, liberal civil rights lawyer (Robert Redford), who is convinced to run for an upcoming campaign for senator. He wins the hearts of the Californian people by tailoring to the needs that matter to them.
Perhaps you have to be an American to truly appreciate this movie. It just didn't really do anything for me.
One of the best moments is when McCay is walking through a crowd of fans. An older man offers him a hot dog. McCay takes it and then,out of nowhere, the man punches him square in the face. When he can't get a soda out of the machine, he loses his cool and attacks it. McCay is late for a television appearance, and when he arrives he gets a fit of the giggles. Another great scene-When he's in the back of the car, and he just starts making weird faces and gives us the peace sign. All of these tiny moments makes this movie unique and hilarious.
In many ways The Candidate reminded me of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Robert Redford is as lovable and contagious as James Stewart. It absolutely deserves the Oscar it won for writing.
There's a quote in the beginning that many probably overlook, but to me it defies the whole movie completely. A gentlemen walks up to McCay after his first speech and says"I've heard it all before, but never quite like that".
I've seen a fair amount of election movies, and none of them are quite like The Candidate.
CANDIDATE revels in a backstage, "candid" approach to political procedure. It harnesses a very active camera - moving, zooming, panning. Evidenced immediately in the credit soundtrack, this isn't meant to be a deft evaluation of Americana, it's a mockery. McKay has his sleeves pulled up, he's eating, he's unbuttoned, he's untucked, he's incorruptible. And the picture is presented as such a slick piece of entertainment that it's just about impossible to disagree. Here's the really interesting part. Whether or not CANDIDATE was aiming for it -- was it? -- it shows television as the most formidable political gamechanger in history. So many of the lines tailor to it -- "they" cut your hair. So many scenes are Television Training Camp. There's the self-satisfied shot where the camera pans into the viewfinder of the TV camera while McKay compromises on his crime policy. In essence, CANDIDATE demonstrates a radically different and devolved political landscape than earlier pieces. Is McKay a Jefferson Smith of the 70's? I think he is -- thanks to the script.
This celebrated script. It stacks Politicians against Non-Politicians and has Redford migrate from the former to the latter. And how it abuses Redford! Possibly the best thing about the film is Redford's amicability and his tangible love for filmmaking. Three years after Sundance, he is ready to be cool for the adults. But what about this script they hand him? The liberalism is so piquant that it smells like we would be better off without government. Like politics is somehow more corrupt or convoluted than anything else in the age of television. The one thing it gets right -- accidentally or not? -- is how the equation of celebrity and politics equals power. Towards the end, the script wallows so much in its own sagacity that it is enough to make me seasick. My biggest question is this -- is the ambitious and potent critique of television incidental or not? And another, how connected are Bill and Barack?
Jefferson. Bill. Barack. America evolves, doesn't it?