Is David Gordon Green‘s Our Brand Is Crisis (Warner Bros., 10.30) a Sandra Bullock dramedy with a real-world political undercurrent, or a political dramedy in which Bullock stars? It will have three Toronto Film Festival screenings this weekend — a single showing on Friday, 9.11 at the Princess of Wales, and two screenings on Saturday (Ryerson, Princess of Wales again).
The Warner Bros./Participant film, produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov, is an adaptation of Rachel Boynton’s 2005 documentary of the same name. The doc focused on the experience of Greenberg Carville Shrum (GCS) in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. Green began shooting in New Orleans on 9.29.14 and presumably wrapped before year’s end.
A little over eight years ago, or on 4.24.07, I wrote the following after hearing that Clooney wanted to adapt Boynton’s doc into a feature comedy: “The people who loved Wild Hogs will stay away in droves, but if it’s done right Clooney’s adaptation could be a great metaphor piece about Americans trying to export its own culture and values — i.e., American political values by way of spin, focus groups, compassionate lying and image-massaging — into other cultures and making things much worse in the process.
“Our Brand Is Crisis is about a political consulting firm called Greenberg Carville Shrum (CGS) being hired to help the 2002 presidential campaign of Bolivian presidential candidate Gonzalo ‘Goni’ Sanchez de Lozada of the MNR Party. He was a cigar-smoking rich guy with his hand out, but he was at least smart enough to use the (very expensive) services of CCS. Goni paid the fee and the gang flew down to Bolivia (among them consultant Tad Devine, Jeremy Rosner and James Carville) to do what they could.
“Goni was elected, but then the country’s economy worsened and the people took to the streets and he was finally forced to resign.
“Boynton’s doc is about days of GCS Bolivian brainstorming sessions, focus groups, carefully staged TV appearances and whatnot. Some guy on an Amazon response forum called it The War Room, Part II: The Bolivian Years.”