"Primary Colors"

as published in the April 3rd edition of the DePaulia

by David Flapan

	"This is a work of fiction!!" insisted Mike Nichols during almost
every interview regarding "Primary Colors," his new feature about a
presidential campaign.  Based on the 1996 book of the same name, written
by an author who called himself "Anonymous," (who was later 'outed' by
the Washington Post as political journalist Joe Klein), it is hard not to
notice the parallels between the characters in Primary Colors and the
characters currently in the White House.  
	Jack Stanton is the Democratic Primary candidate on whom the story
focuses.   Played with aplomb by John Travolta (Grease, Face/Off), he is
Southern, with many gray hairs, an appetite for doughnuts, and a
reputation for chasing women.   His wife is played by Emma Thompson
(Howard's End, Sense and Sensibility) in a superb performance that not
only showcases her acting range, but also highlights her considerable
skill at doing accents, as she feigns a combination of
a Southern/Midwestern drawl, hiding her Brit roots.
	Analyzed closely enough, one can find a supposed real-life
counterpart for almost everyone in the film.  Billy Bob Thornton takes a
wide dramatic turn (away from his Oscar nominated signature role as the
lead in Sling Blade) as Stanton's Southern, balding political strategist
(modeled on James Carville), and rookie Adrian Lester (also a Brit, who
also effectivley feigns an American accent) is a preppy young campaign
advising strategist (think George Stephanopoulis).  
	Other notable performances include Larry Hagman (I Dream
of Jeannie, Dallas) as one of Stanton's opponents, and Kathy Bates
(Misery, Titanic) in another brilliant role as an old friend who helps 
to troubleshoot the campaign (and does not have enough screen time).
	Primary Colors works on most levels.  It is a combination of
satire, documentary, and biography.  Travolta portrays Stanton with an
abundance of warmth, sincerity, and an ideal amount of vulnerability.
Scenes with the public are favorable, and show him connecting with them
in a way that is sure to capture their vote.  A prime example is the scene
in a doughnut shop, resting after a long day.  Stanton capitulates with
the sole worker.  Two very different people, in very different situations,
find they have a lot to talk about.
	As a couple, Travolta and Thompson display an abundance of
chemistry, that elicits our concern for the well being of them both
individually and for their marraige.  In their reactions to others'
dialogue, their emotions are conveyed superbly, for both what they are
individually thinking, and what they hope each other is thinking.
	The film does drag in certain parts, and it is rather lengthy 
(at 2:23), but it was a fun story to follow, if you can try to forget
about what is going on in the real world.

Rated R (Adult situations, language)