Primary Colors [DVD]
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This political satire, based on a book by an (originally) anonymous insider (now known to be Joe Klein) who worked on Bill Clinton's 1992 Presidential campaign, centres on the charismatic, philandering, power-hungry Southern Democrat governor Jack Stanton (John Travolta). Together with his equally headstrong wife (Emma Thompson), Stanton rises from obscurity to become a main player on the political map, but various sexual scandals in his private life threaten to derail his ascent to power. Adrian Lester, Billy Bob Thornton and Kathy Bates feature as part of his eccentric campaign team.
Based on the novel by Anonymous (a.k.a. political reporter Joe Klein) and released when the Monica Lewinsky scandal was in full swing, Primary Colors may have been a case of too much, too soon for many moviegoers, who preferred the real-life Clinton crisis over the movie's thinly disguised "Clintonesque" comedy. The general public felt that the film was exploiting the president's indiscretions, and as a result one of the most critically acclaimed movies of 1998 was a box-office disappointment. But when considered apart from the Clinton scandals and judged on its own considerable merits, this superb comedy-drama provides an illuminating, insightful, and frequently hilarious look at the harsh realities of presidential politics. John Travolta stars as Jack Stanton, a presidential hopeful whose campaign is challenged by dual dilemmas: how to squelch a scandal involving the candidate's alleged sex with an underage girl, and how to handle information that could potentially ruin Stanton's opponent (superbly played by Larry Hagman). Stanton's wife (Emma Thompson) stands by her man despite awareness of his infidelities, but his loyal campaign planners (played by Billy Bob Thornton, Maura Tierney, and Adrian Lester) experience a crisis of conscience. So does one of the Stantons' oldest friends (Kathy Bates, in an Oscar-nominated role), whose sense of betrayal and lost idealism proves too much to bear. Masterfully adapted by director Mike Nichols and his former-comedy-partner-turned-screenwriter, Elaine May, Primary Colors plays like a sophisticated comedy with loads of memorable scenes and dialogue, but it sneaks up on you with devastating dramatic impact. Anchored by Travolta's superb performance (which is reminiscent of Clinton without being a cheap impersonation), the movie presents a story of great moral complexity and leaves viewers to contemplate their own reactions to the volatile and ethically complicated game of modern politics. --Jeff ShannonSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
With fine acting all round (particularly Travolta and Thompson) it is really quite a believable exploration of the man that helps understand the character of his 8 years as President. I found Travolta's portrayal, constantly switching between personas depending on the audience, engrossing - the Southern Governer singing "You Are My Sunshine" to the Champion of the working man rounding up donations from industrialists.
Brilliant stuff! Definitely worth watching, especially if you like the West Wing.
Enjoyable political drama loosely based on the Clinton campaign. Travolta is very entertaining as Governor Jack, on a rocky road to securing the Democratic nomination. Appropriately, he's almost outclassed by Larry Hagman's portrayal of Stanton's arch rival Governor Picker. The campaign for election is seen from the perspective of new recruit Henry Burton (Adrian Lester) as he questions his relationship with Stanton's wavering political ethics; fellow Brit actor Emma Thompson is also impressive as Stanton's determined wife Susan. Kathy Bates deserved an Oscar for her supporting role as 'dust buster' Libby.
Suffice to say, there are no weak links in the casting and the story has the sour taste of truth in it, though it is often very funny. Certainly a world away from the idealized politik of The American President [DVD] 
Worth watching again round election time, to remind you that where there's naked ambition there's also sacrifice and suffering.
The movie was good. It told the story of a politician, even though he was a brilliant strategist and possessed a keen political mind, he really cared for and loved people. He wanted to shake hands with you and hear your story. Overall, it showed the trail of bad choices and shortcomings of a brilliant, but flawed, man.
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So close to the Clintons it can only be based on their story.Read more