“The Front Runner” is not going to tell you how to feel about politics. The new film, starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Jason Reitman and co-written by him and Matt Bai and Jay Carson, tells the story of the short-lived 1988 presidential campaign of Sen. Gary Hart, D-Colo., who went from being the presumptive favorite to win the presidency to political oblivion within the span of a few days, felled by a scandal fueled by the senator’s extra-marital affair. “You could see the seeds of politics we’re dealing with now,” says Carson, a former Capitol Hill staffer.
The central tenet of the film is that few people — the candidate, his staff and family, journalists, etc., — were prepared for what happened to Hart, and they made the best decisions they could at the time in what would help define the electoral and political process for years to come. “We’ve created a process that rewards a bit of shamelessness, that both attracts and rewards candidates that who will do anything to get or hold office,” Bai adds. Listen to our full conversation, including a partial interview with Reitman, on this Political Theater podcast: