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By Heinrich Domingo

In the hundreds of frames this film flashed in front of the audience, it failed to direct our attention to important elements. Our Brand is Crisis suffers from the inability of its makers to emphasize images and lead us where the action is most significant. Nevertheless, lessons on politics, public relations, and image management are relevant to the Filipino crowd whose political judgment will be weighed May this year.

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Set in a third-world country, American campaign strategists vie to deliver victory to their respective presidential candidates. Jane Bodine (played by Sandra Bullock) leads the team of Pedro Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida) in winning the election. Despite starting off as number five, Castillo earned the top spot through mud-slinging, extortion, false promises, and other dirty tricks. But when he began to assume office, Bodine realizes that she had helped a corrupt politician earn the most-coveted seat in the land.

Bolivia’s political atmosphere is far different from those of North American and European nations. Poor electorates who put prime in democracy are considered unruly by nations whose populace is largely composed of non-complaining middle class. This footing annihilates first-world country moviegoers while creating a connection with developing nations like the Philippines.

Castillo represents the awkward character and hopeless situation of Mar Roxas. His team resembles the brilliant image management team behind Rodrigo Duterte. And his corruption reminds us of allegations against Jejomar Binay. Pedro Castillo is a politician that thrives in poor democratic countries like ours. The brand of crisis developed by Bodine and her colleagues is the same political brand used again and again in our elections. Thus, watching the film seemed like looking at a mirror’s reflection of our country’s state.

While Our Brand is Crisis started off as a promising narrative, it was eventually revealed to be an unguided collection of ideas. The story revolved on the personal battle between Jane Bodine and her rival Pat Candy (played by Billy Bob Thornton). This initial message is joined together with issues of voter manipulation, US political meddling, socio-political environment in poor countries, and many more. And as if the audience is not yet bombarded with multiple subjects, the movie until the end injects one topic of political strategists’ social responsibility.

The filmmakers’ ineffective storytelling spoils the narrative found inside the movie. Still, there are bits of stories that are important to be heard but the audience would have a hard time looking for them. Our Brand is Crisis shall be remembered as a film discussing image management while failing to build its own image.

3 stars

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