Election (1999)

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To make progress in the world of politics, according to many people, takes a certain kind of mindset and flexible morality, to put it politely. People hungry for power and influence tend to get themselves into positions that put them a bit further up the ladder in the world of politics. I agree with Billy Connolly, who once said that anyone wanting to actually be a politician should be barred for life from ever having the chance.

In any arena, a battle for political leadership can be a battle that causes rifts, brings out the worst in people and even leads to casualties. Even if, as is the case here, the political arena is a high school. Yes, Election is all about a campaign to become president of the student body that becomes something very important to most of the people involved.

Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon in one of her best performances) is the perfect little student, always ready with her hand in the air when a question is asked, and leading the way in any group she decides to join in with. When it looks like she’ll win the position of student body president simply because nobody else is running against her, teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick, also giving a superb performance) decides that something must be done to stop her breezy journey through life towards some position of complete domination. He manages to persuade injured jock Paul Metzler(Chris Klein) to run against Tracy, which in turn leads to sister Tammy Metzler (Jessica Campbell) also running. And so things begin to get serious, both within the school and out of school as Jim begins to let his mind wander and consider things that could well jeopardise his position and even his home life.

Well acted by all concerned (even Chris Klein is just fine in the role of a dumb, but sweet, jock) and well directed by Alexander Payne, Election is then pushed up a notch or two thanks to a superbly sharp script that juxtaposes material and reveals different aspects of the main characters in a consistently entertaining way. The pacing is just perfect, the content sits just nicely in between the uncomfortable and the amusing (in other words, things may take a turn for the worse for some characters but you never start to squirm at any point) and the whole thing works as an overview of the charm and deceit prevalent in the world of politics while displayed within the microcosm of a standard American high school.

DIRECTOR: ALEXANDER PAYNE
WRITER: ALEXANDER PAYNE, JIM TAYLOR (BASED ON THE NOVEL BY TOM PERROTTA)
STARS: MATTHEW BRODERICK, REESE WITHERSPOON, CHRIS KLEIN, JESSICA CAMPBELL, PHIL REEVES, MOLLY HAGAN, DELANEY DRISCOLL
RUNTIME: 103 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: USA

Film Rating: ★★★★☆

2 Comments
  1. Tue Sorensen says

    I rated it a 7 – I don’t actually remember that much from it. But I have the DVD, and will probably watch it again sometime.

  2. Kevin Matthews says

    It’s certainly a film worth a rewatch IMO and stays just as sharp 🙂

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