Primary Colors (1998)

They're Not Exactly A Well Organized Well Oliled Machine But That's Their Secret

Blu-ray, 2h 23min
Rating: 6.6
Votes: 26607
Languages: English
Country: UK, France, Germany, Japan, USA
Director: Mike Nichols
Music: Ry Cooder

Plot outline

A man joins the political campaign of a smooth-operator candidate for President of the U.S.

Personal notes



A man joins the political campaign of a smooth-operator candidate for President of the U.S. - Murray Chapman

Jack Stanton is running for president. The election is seen through the eyes of young Henry Burton. Along the way Stanton must deal with a sex scandal. - Anonymous

This work is the barely fictionalized account of candidate Bill Clinton in 1992 via the character southern Governor Jack Stanton (John Travolta). Joe Klein joined Newsweek as a political reporter and columnist during the 1992 U.S. Presidential race, and followed then-candidate Bill Clinton on the road. As such, Klein dutifully conveys the youthful exuberance for a new candidate, along with the sense of awe at his determination, drive, and intelligence. All along, he also displays the shocking lack of personal morals of a "natural" candidate for the office. Further, he shows the inner deal-making that everyone connected with the campaign makes to achieve the vision with which he or she started, no matter how ugly the cheating, talented candidate gets on his road to the election. Klein tells the story from the first person perspective of a sophomorish campaign manager, Henry Burton (Adrian Lester), who just happens to be a grandson of a black civil rights leader. They join the southern Governor at a talk given on adult education, in which Governor Stanton cries as he tells the students how they were braver than his uncle - a World War II veteran that earned the Medal of Honor, but went home and never took a job because he was too embarrassed to tell anyone he was illiterate. We next find out this story is not true. Despite this, Burton decides to join the campaign, and works many of the standard issues - such as fighting off scurrilous attacks by opposing candidates, and captured and doctored cell phone conversations, et cetera. Burton walks into the campaign headquarters (a hotel suite) to find the Governor coming out of a bedroom not completely dressed, and a disheveled librarian they had just met at a school they had attended. Of course, Susan Stanton (Dame Emma Thompson), the Governor's wife, is nowhere to be found. The team flies to another destination to meet up with Mrs. Stanton, as she has been campaigning for her husband among their party elite in that state. Burton is eventually introduced to Libby Holden (Kathy Bates), whose job is to defend the President by combating the attacks from all comers. She does so with ruthless abandon, but also with a strict moral code: There apparently is something noble about stopping the attacks of others, but it is almost reprehensible about digging up the dirt on others - essentially attacking them first. We come to know that Governor Stanton is a philanderer of extraordinary magnitude, but an inspired genius at politics. Unfortunately, this extends to sleeping with a seventeen-year-old babysitter, the librarian they just recently met, a long-term affair with another woman, and the list goes on.