As previous reviewers have noted this film is presented bare-bones. However, if you haven't seen this movie, I'd still recommend picking it up, especially if you're a fan of New Hollywood and in particular, Robert Altman. However, it's not just film buffs who'll like the film, the Oscar-winning script was written by an ex-Political aide who'd been mentored by screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown) and this authentic nature is carried over into the documentary-style camerawork and natural performances.
But what separates The Candidate from the batch of Paranoid Political Drama's of the time (many of which starred Redford) is that instead of concentrating on a conspiracy theory, clear-eyed it looks at the machinations behind the making and breaking of a Political campaign. Redford is an idealist chosen to run for the White House by a Democratic team who is convinced that because of his inexperience they can shape his Policies. Redford's characters initially starts with a environmentally-friendly themed campaign, but as the movie plays, a lot of the drama comes from the compromises as his ideas are watered down and overtures of a face-to-face with his Politically-illustrious Father. There are moments of humour and timely scope such as the importance of Grass-roots campaigning and the power the media hold in shaping image.
Loose comparison's can be made to the historic 2008 election with Barack Obama and John McCain running (in The Candidate, to Redford's younger, charismatic Bill McKay is his opponent, more experienced and not a million miles away from McCain), and this is what brings a lot of fascination to the film with Obama even stating it's one of his favourites.
The climax is a stunning moment, with the final moments sure to stay in the viewer's memory. Rank it alongside 'All the President's Men' and the HBO TV movie 'Recount' for electrifying Political viewing.