[box cover]

The Contender

This sordid and shallow piece of election-year propaganda from former film critic Rod Lurie stars Joan Allen as a Democrat Senator nominated for the Vice Presidency, but finds her confirmation blocked by a ruthless Republican congressman (Gary Oldman) and some seamy sexual indiscretions from her college days. While decrying the current inflammatory state of political discourse, Lurie shamelessly reduces complicated arguments into noble sound-bites and hysterical personal attacks before selling out the film's overriding principles for a feel-good ending. While the performances are uniformly strong, the imagery is heavy-handed, and the ideology overwhelms the narrative. Even as propaganda, The Contender lacks potent iconic power that elevates one-sided films like Triumph of the Will and I Am Cuba into the realm of art. Also with Jeff Bridges as the President, Sam Elliot as his Chief of Staff, Christian Slater as a naive junior congressman, and William L. Petersen as a sleazy Democrat. DreamWorks put together a fine set of features for this disc, including a crystal 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, and DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby 2.0 Surround soundtracks. Includes a self-congratulatory commentary track with Lurie and star Allen, who offers little beyond persistent agreement with her director, plus deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette. All contained within a typically impenetrable DreamWorks keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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