For what seems to be a pivotal moment for the intersection of American politics and journalism, The Front Runner’s presentation of this risque story is quite milquetoast. The script plods along in a straight line but feels like it is always dragging its feet. The interactions between characters are always of the most mundane and basic variety making the relatively short 113 minute runtime feel every bit of 150 minutes despite Hugh Jackman doing his best to keep things moving. Arguably worse, the journalism angle feels more akin to the plainness of The Post than the intrigue of investigative reporting in Spotlight.
Director Jason Reitman is intent on telling Gary Hart’s story in a vacuum. By never giving the audience an understanding of what political journalism was like prior to Hart, viewers have no frame of reference for why Hart is so adamant that the public will not care about his moral transgressions. For those of us too young to remember the pre-Hart era, the idea that American politics would not be infused with tabloid scandals is an entirely foreign one. By not exploring the political landscape before or after the events of this movie, the film comes across as simply a matter-of-fact retelling of the events that would have been better suited as a documentary.