Our Brand Is Crisis

"Very Good"

Our Brand Is Crisis Review


In the new political documentary Our Brand is Crisis - or, as it could have been named, James Carville and Friends Go To Bolivia! - a team of blue-shirt and khaki-pants D.C. consultants head south to help run the 2002 presidential campaign of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, aka "Goni." A cursory glance at the headlines which have been coming out of Bolivia recently is all the clue you need to see how well that turned out for the consultants, Goni, and the country in general.

The election documentary is a rich field for the non-fiction genre, melding the fly-on-the-wall recordings of nuts-and-bolts decision-making - all those backroom discussions normally never seen by the electorate - with the built-in drama of an impending popular contest. With her first feature release, director Rachel Boynton has chosen her subject perfectly and handles it just about as well, landing Our Brand is Crisis in the company of films like The War Room and the more lighthearted Journeys with George.

Like in most films of this kind, the candidate himself is not the star, not even close. It's instead his gringo handlers, the hot-shot D.C. boys there to lend their brand of magic to Goni's campaign. The consultants all hail from the firm GCS (Greenville, Carville and Shrum), which identifies itself as a "progressive" consultancy, that is, they'll work for candidates all across America and the world but only for the ones whom they believe line up at least somewhat with their own belief system. Given that the star of the firm (and inevitably the film itself, given his driving urgency and off-color jokes) is the bullet-headed Carville, GCS's values favor a Clintonian and Blair-ite middle-road blend of "progressive" politics and market economics. In Goni, GCS feels they have found the ideal candidate, a stalwart and distinguished-looking establishment guy - he already served as president from 1993 to 1997 - whose ideals are democratic, "market-based and modern but with broad benefits." What Boynton ably highlights, however, is how detached from reality GCS's impressions really are.

From the start, it's clear that Goni is the wrong man for the job. Raised in Washington by his Bolivian exile parents, he projects an aura of utter arrogance and condescension from the get-go, saying the common Bolivian people don't need candid talk on economic matters and referring to indigenous protestors as spoiled children. It's those some commoners and protestors, of course, who will topple Goni's presidency and later sweep the Hugo Chavez-esque populist Evo Morales into power.

Although Boynton's stated intentions for making the film point to a commendable desire to raise awareness about how American-style brand marketing is infiltrating the political process all over the world - GCS alone has consulted on elections in everywhere from Ireland to Israel - she doesn't play it too heavy-handed here. With perhaps one exception (Tad Devine, GCS's media-bubble-blind ad campaign specialist whose American-style negative ads backfire on them), the GCS guys come off as surprisingly decent but misguided policy and process wonks who genuinely think they're backing the right horse, even as indigenous Bolivians march and focus group after focus group tells them their candidate is arrogant and out of touch. Where Our Brand is Crisis is most damning is in its portrait of Goni, whose decisions in the 1990s to open up the nation and its vast natural gas resources to foreign investment and control were vastly unpopular and painted him as an out-of-touch gringo oligarch who was about as Bolivian as his consultants.

As a portrait of day-to-day campaigning, Our Brand is Crisis is almost without peer. Boynton's camera seems practically invisible as the GCS team debates strategy with surprising candidness, hammering home their idea that Bolivia is in crisis and Goni's the guy to solve it - even if he seems less engaged in the details of campaigning than his hired guns do. What the film also ably shows, in its footage of the protests that convulsed Bolivia over the past few years, is how drastically wrong (if honestly intentioned) mistakes made by a band of consultants from an office in Washington can contribute to bloodshed and near societal collapse in a Third World nation whose politics can't be reduced to the same Beltway template now being exported around the world.

Our slogan is "Faltan."



Our Brand Is Crisis

Facts and Figures

Run time: 85 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 12th March 2005

Distributed by: Koch Lorber Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 36 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Rachel Boynton

Producer: Rachel Boynton,

Starring: as n.a.

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Since its true story is still so timely after some 150 years, we can forgive...

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

This reunion of actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg feels like a natural successor...

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Ransom Riggs' bestselling novel is appropriately adapted into a movie by Tim Burton, the gothic...

Get Back Movie Review

Get Back Movie Review

Roger Appleton's documentary 'Get Back' looks into the music scene that come out of Liverpool....

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Advertisement
Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.