Primary Colors, Primary Colors Movie Review, Movie Review, Film Review
Michael A. Maynez   photo

"Primary Colors"

The Anonymous, nome de plume, of Joe Klein, author of the notorious “Primary Colors” has at last come to the screen under the brilliant direction of Mike Nichols and the smart writings of Elaine May who managed to turn a script that is controversial and still knowledgeable about America’s political scene.  The movie is timely from today's headlines, with the lives of President Clinton and his mate Hillary, that it’s almost to apprehensively frightening.  Yet it is so entertaining as to keep you guessing as to who is who.

John Travolta as Clinton gives a performance that is so uncanny that at times it is difficult to separate their personas.  It is without doubt the best characterization he has created in his cinematic career.  Emma Thompson gives an energetic performance unfortunately she is only ballast to the movie.  Kathy Bates will undoubtedly be remembered at next year’s Academy Awards, she walks away with picture.  Adrien Lester, the British actor is right up there too with a more restrained performance.  Billy Bob Thornton redeems himself after that ludicrous role in “The Gospel”.  Larry Hagman is wonderful as the tragic figure that turns things around in the political potboiler of how to win a presidential election.

I am sure that long after the flick has left your mind, you are going to remember dialogue like Kathy Bates’ quote. “ He has poked his pecker in some sorry trash bins”, and so many other good zingers that leave you to wonder at the pizzazz of this witty Elaine May’s script and Mike Nichols beautiful sculptured direction that make it find a perfect target.  Not that he didn’t have and excellent crew to make him realized this dream, people like; Michael Ballhaus the cinematographer, Ann Roth, costumes, Bo Welch, production designer, Ry Cooder, musical score and the sharp editing of Arthur Schmidt.  If you pay close attention you will notice that Ann Roth’s costumes for all are very much in keeping the red, white and blue waving and weaving themselves magnificently throughout the movie.

Primary Colors
Universal Release
Directed by: Mike Nichols
Produced by: Mike Nichols
With: John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton, Adrian Lester, Maura Tierney, Paul Guilfoyle, Larry Hagman, Kathy Bates
Executive producers: Neil Machlis, Jonathan D. Krane
Co-producer: Michele Imperato
Screenplay by: Elaine May
Based on the novel by anonymous: Joe Klein
Edited by: Arthur Schmidt
Music by: Ry Cooder
Production designer: Bo Welch
Director of photography: Michael Ballhaus
Film editor: Angelo Corrao, Arthur Schmidt
Rated: R
Running time: 143 min

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Original Date Monday 30 March 1998
Updated Monday 30 March 1998