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  • Writer's pictureHunter Friesen

"Primary Colors" Throwback Review

With a near-perfect script by Elaine May and perfect casting of John Travolta and Emma Thompson as the Bill and Hilary Clinton stand-ins, Primary Colors is an excellent insight into political life as well as basic human nature.

Absolutely scathing in its approach, the script skewers the American political system along with all those involved in the machine, including the slimy politicians that sell empty promises and the voting masses that eat it up.

There isn't a single serious issue - such as foreign policy or federal spending - brought up, only gossip, slander, and whatever garbage makes the front page.

John Travolta gives a career-best performance as Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Jack Stanton. Even if you know that you don't want to meet what's underneath the surface, Travolta's Stanton is someone you just can't resist, especially when he hits you with his pearly white smile and smooth southern drawl.

But director Mike Nichols doesn't lose sight of the second-half of this political power couple as he often fixates his camera on Thompson in numerous scenes. With this technique, Nichols' examines the inherent sexism for women in politics and the predestined role of the "subservient wife" that Ms. Stanton must play.

Funny, infuriating, and eye-opening, Primary Colors is even more effective as a political commentary today as it was in 1998.


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