The Candidate (1972)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Political Satire, Satire  |   Release Date - Jun 29, 1972 (USA)  |   Run Time - 109 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - R
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A dryly funny and pungent satire of the gamesmanship of contemporary politics, The Candidate suggests that the desire for power, no matter how well-intentioned, is the first step down the primrose path to purgatory. While Robert Redford (in a fine, understated performance), director Michael Ritchie, and screenwriter (and former Eugene McCarthy speechwriter) Jeremy Larner almost always suggest that McKay's intentions are pure, they make clear that, the more McKay turns himself into a smooth-talking, blow-dried congressional candidate, the more he betrays his original intentions; the transformation is so gradual that McKay doesn't always seem aware of it, though the audience is, and, when McKay quizzically asks "What do we do now?" in the film's famous conclusion, it's the ultimate sign of how far he's strayed from his original intentions. Ritchie's sharp but subtle style and cinematographer Victor J. Kemper's clean, pin-sharp framings give The Candidate a smart and incisive feel that's never too obvious, and its satire is all the more effective as a result.