Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Frontrunners

Amusing, sometimes wistful, documentary of elections in a New York City high school.

Oct 17, 2008

-By Eric Monder


For movie details, please click here.

Coming along at the perfect time, Frontrunners captures the energy and excitement that surrounds actual elections. This time, the focus is on the competition at Stuyvesant High School in New York City, but the documentary’s message also comments on the current national race.

Director Caroline Suh follows the young candidates for class president through the entire process in this captivating story where politics often trumps ideas and do-gooding. The candidates and their running mates seek support of the student body with platforms and positions, some practical, some ideological. Since the school is filled with bright, ambitious, savvy students, the competition is fierce and, of the four major candidates, two emerge as the most promising: Alex Leonard, a jock, and Hannah Freiman, a theater major.

The campaigning and politicking culminates in a “televised” debate. Neither candidate emerges as a clear winner, but in the end, on election day, one candidate wins handily, securing a possible future in post-graduate politics.

The campaign is instructive and cautionary. Though the candidates never stoop to the level of smearing their opponents or employing dirty tricks, they emerge as model modern political candidates—attractive and charismatic, but (at least for the victor) more concerned with winning than solving problems.

Somehow, Suh managed to gain access to the students’ activities, even their intimate moments, without seeming to interfere in the process. Frontrunners could easily be mistaken for a dramatic feature—it’s amazing how natural and unselfconscious the students are on camera.

Frontrunners rewards viewers with a vivid, lively, and symbolic real-life story more compelling than fictional movies such as Election (1999). Suh reassures us that democracy is alive and well (dispelling the myth of the apathetic young voter), while making us pause to consider the kind of people who emerge from the system.


Film Review: Frontrunners

Amusing, sometimes wistful, documentary of elections in a New York City high school.

Oct 17, 2008

-By Eric Monder


For movie details, please click here.

Coming along at the perfect time, Frontrunners captures the energy and excitement that surrounds actual elections. This time, the focus is on the competition at Stuyvesant High School in New York City, but the documentary’s message also comments on the current national race.

Director Caroline Suh follows the young candidates for class president through the entire process in this captivating story where politics often trumps ideas and do-gooding. The candidates and their running mates seek support of the student body with platforms and positions, some practical, some ideological. Since the school is filled with bright, ambitious, savvy students, the competition is fierce and, of the four major candidates, two emerge as the most promising: Alex Leonard, a jock, and Hannah Freiman, a theater major.

The campaigning and politicking culminates in a “televised” debate. Neither candidate emerges as a clear winner, but in the end, on election day, one candidate wins handily, securing a possible future in post-graduate politics.

The campaign is instructive and cautionary. Though the candidates never stoop to the level of smearing their opponents or employing dirty tricks, they emerge as model modern political candidates—attractive and charismatic, but (at least for the victor) more concerned with winning than solving problems.

Somehow, Suh managed to gain access to the students’ activities, even their intimate moments, without seeming to interfere in the process. Frontrunners could easily be mistaken for a dramatic feature—it’s amazing how natural and unselfconscious the students are on camera.

Frontrunners rewards viewers with a vivid, lively, and symbolic real-life story more compelling than fictional movies such as Election (1999). Suh reassures us that democracy is alive and well (dispelling the myth of the apathetic young voter), while making us pause to consider the kind of people who emerge from the system.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Time is Illmatic
Film Review: Nas: Time is Illmatic

Intended as the portrait of an artist as a young man, the music doc Time Is Illmatic is actually more interesting as a look back at the place and time that created him. More »

The Decent One
Film Review: The Decent One

A behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the Nazi regime’s most fearsome executioners. More »

The Two Faces of January
Film Review: The Two Faces of January

Good pulp yarn about three disparate Americans—an aging con man, his lovely young wife, and an impetuous tour guide—who meet their destiny among the ancient ruins of Greece. More »

Tazza 2: The Hidden Card
Film Review: Tazza 2: The Hidden Card

Wildly entertaining and kaleidoscopic, this sequel to a Korean hit is strictly aces. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Equalizer Review
Film Review: The Equalizer

Former agent is drawn out of hiding to fight a Russian gang in a reboot of the 1980s television series. More »

The Boxtrolls
Film Review: The Boxtrolls

Another amazingly meticulous and stylish stop-motion tale from the Laika studio, this time focusing on a boy adopted by a population of maligned underground trolls. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here