Bulworth (1998)

Directed by Warren Beatty
Written by Warren Beatty & Jeremy Pikser, based on a story by Warren Beatty
Starring Warren Beatty, Halle Berry, Oliver Platt, Paul Sorvino, Don Cheadle

My Advice: Wait for Cable.

Senator Jay Bulworth (Beatty) is a man who's reached the end of his rope, and he perceives it to be a noose.  After a lifetime of fighting what he believed to be the good fight, he has come to the realization on the eve of his re-election that his life is an abysmal and shallow meaningless piece of nothing.  With this nervous breakdown and accompanying nihlism in place, he sets out to destroy himself by accepting a huge life insurance policy and then hiring a hitman to have himself rubbed out.  Then, still faced with the campaign trail, he proceeds to go out and commit suicide politically and insult everyone who ever gave money (or didn't give money) to his organization.

This film has its heart in the right place, but unfortunately no other parts of its anatomy are.  And it's a shame, because I can see what Beatty was trying to do: paint a satirical picture of what today's American politics are.  What are they?  Not caring for anyone in particular, no matter what race or status or anything else.  It's just "Follow the money."  It wants to do for politics what Dudley Moore's forgotten Crazy People did for advertising.  It doesn't quite get there, although it tries.

First of all, you have an all-star cast that doesn't really get to do anything.  They stand around, they do their thing, and none of them are really memorable, with the exception of Oliver Platt's put-upon first lieutenant to the Senator and Don Cheadle's street gangster.  But those two stand out in everything they do, so no surprises there.  Second, you have a man unintentionally stirring up in regards to the political system...what, exactly?  No debate is going on, no answers are forthcoming--the only thing that comes close is a strange homeless man (Amiri Baraka) telling Bulworth how he's got to be a spirit and not a ghost.  However, that little detail is open to such broad interpretation it's weak at best.  The film has its moments, such as an altercation between two police officers and a gang of small boys, but they are strung throughout the piece and weaken it substantially.  Confusing and unsatisfying, check for it on your movie channel at home.

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