“The Best Man” makes me so glad that I’m not a politician and never will be one.
According to this film, politics is a cut-throat competition that will stop at nothing to defeat the opposition just to get a better chance at more power, only to have your beliefs, ideals and personal life scrutinized and deflated by the entire nation. It’s a area where honesty and trust goes to die, and the only thing that truly matters is not the values of the nation, but looking out for number one.
I respect “The Best Man” for not pulling any punches and showing us two men (Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson) who believe they’re good people that have what it takes to be the next president of the United States. But ultimately resort to every dirty rotten trick in the book to gain the upper hand over the other, exposing the underbelly and nasty side of politics that most believe is necessary to achieve success. Henry Fonda in particular feels authentic as always, as a man who wants to be more than he is, but has a hard time dealing with shadier side of politics, feeling that he shouldn’t have to resort to such low tactics to win the heart of the nation.
This is a film with no easy solutions and presents the ever-evolving world of politics as a chaotic, greedy one that hides behind empty promises, television interviews and smiles. It is based off the stage play by Gore Vidal and it often feels like a play, most of the film taking place in two or three interchangeable locations and relies heavily on the flowery speeches of politicians and its leading performances. It has just enough going on to keep you invested in the struggle for power between these two men, so it is certainly worth a watch.
Final Grade: C+