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Sandra Bullock Lifts ‘Our Brand Is Crisis’ Above Stale Political Satire

Sandra Bullock plays a scrappy political consultant in the comedy drama 'Our Brand is Crisis.' (Photo: ScreenCap)

Sandra Bullock plays a scrappy political consultant in the comedy drama ‘Our Brand is Crisis.’ (Photo: ScreenCap)

Sandra Bullock delivers, perhaps, the performance of her career in “Our Brand Is Crisis,” and that’s saying a lot, given her Oscar-winning role in 2010’s “Blind Side,” and Oscar-nominated part in last year’s “Gravity.” Despite mixed early reviews, I loved it.. and her.

Bullock plays “Calamity” Jane Bodine, a somewhat washed up political gun-for-hire who comes out of retirement to work for the re-election of an unpopular Bolivian president.

The strong supporting cast includes Scoot McNairy, Billy Bob Thornton, Joaquim de Almeida, Anthony Mackie and Ann Dowd.

Bodine’s rival, Pat Candy (Thorton) is working for Victor Rivera, a socialist opposition leader. Thorton is almost reprising his role in Mike Nichol’s brilliant film, “Primary Colors.”

Thorton’s role in “Colors” was based on real-life political strategist James Carville. Ironically, Carville also figures in “Crisis.”

The movie is based on Rachel Boynton’s 2005 documentary by the same name. It examined the use of American political campaign marketing tactics in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. Carville’s firm, Greenberg Carville Shrum (GCS), was a central player.

Peter Straughan (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”) wrote the “Crisis” script based on the documentary and turned the story into a comedy-drama.

The script is tightly and inventively written and brilliantly performed. I loved “Tailor Tinker” because the script was so well written. Same thing here.

While Bullock’s character isn’t immediately convinced that her candidate can win, the fact that rival Candy is working for the opposition candidate, spurs her on.

Seems their history is a complicated one. Candy allegedly leaked a story that ruined one of her candidates.

In an ironic twist, at one point Thornton reminds her that the leaked story was hers, not his. The point is never fully resolved but makes you think.

Much has been made of the fact that George Clooney was slated to appear in the movie. But his part was re-written for Bullock.

Clooney’s take would have been interesting. His 2011 American political drama, “The Ides of March,” also about a shady political campaign, was brilliantly acted and scripted.

Instead, Clooney and creative partner, Grant Heslov, produced “Crisis.”

The film screened at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival and received mixed reviews.

Oddly, critics were divided over the script. Some said it lacked punch and was too tepid, while others found the mix of satire, comedy and political farce just about right. Bullock and the cast were generally praised.

There are no car crashes in his film and no overwhelming special effects, or mayhem. It’s just brilliantly acted by a top-notch cast. The direction from David Gordon Green (“Pineapple Express”) is totally serviceable.

Bullock makes the film worth watching. She delivers a bravura performance.

This one just shot to my Top Ten best list for the year. The film opens domestically Oct. 30.

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