Published Sep 12, 2015David Gordon Green's latest film, Our Brand Is Crisis, follows a series of American political strategists (led by Sandra Bullock) who travel to Bolivia to help swing an election. The movie is packed with questions about the morality of political campaigning at large. That said, the film's not specifically political.
"It is about big business and how we as a people are easily manipulated or advertised to in order to sway," Bullock said during a TIFF press conference. "We're shedding a light on a small slice of that world, and that happens to be politics. But I think that definitely represents where we are as a culture and we need to sort of take ownership back and start looking at things for what they are, rather than what we're being sold."
"We weren't really looking into it as being a political statement," producer George Clooney added. "Obviously we did Ides of March as well — we were very interested in the election process and how you elect officials…. But I think, I sort of second what Sandy was saying — we weren't looking at this as strictly about politics. We were looking at this about the human condition, and how we are packaging and selling everything in a very specific way. We thought that was an interesting thing to discuss."
That said, the film is coming out at an interesting time in American politics. "Obviously the timing now, you know, who would've thought that Donald Trump would be at 30 per cent," Clooney said. "It ends up working out very well for the film but, you know. We're not that good."
While the film casts an extremely harsh light on the morality of political campaigning, it counters that with plenty and plenty of humour. For co-star Zoe Kazan, that balance was crucial. "I feel like we've all become very jaded about our political process," she said. "I didn't feel like there was a lot that was surprising [about the politics in the film] per se. But I did find the tone of the script surprising, in terms of its ability to balance humour and take a very serious take on that. I think that we look in a sardonic or cynical way, with a kind of humorous indifference at a lot of times. And I liked that this movie did that, and showed the cost that can come with that sardonic distance."
Outside of its onscreen politics, the production of Our Brand Is Crisis was noticeable for playing with gender roles in Hollywood. The film was originally written with a male lead in mind, but it was Bullock who fought for the main character to be changed to a female so that she could play it. "When Sandy came to me and said, 'I'd like to play a part in this movie,' and I was like, 'which part?'" Clooney recalled. "The guy!"
"There's so much talk of that right now, and it's getting heightened which makes me happy," Bullock said about the lack of strong roles for women. "What I want to comment on is that I was able to say, 'Would you take a role that you guys have cherished and worked on a long time and change it to a female?' And there was not a lot of hesitation. The only hesitation was can that writer do it. So that hopefully shows a shift in the climate for women in film. We still have some climbing to do."
Our Brand Is Crisis opens on October 30.