Election (1999)

Election (1999)

Plot – A high school teacher meets his match in an over-achieving student politician – Election.

Director – Alexander Payne

Starring – Mathew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein

Genre – Comedy | Drama

Released – 1999

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If you liked: Almost Famous, Cruel Intentions, Pleasantville


Although it was Sideways that helped bring Alexander Payne to the forefront of the wider film going, for me it was Election that brought his talent as a filmmaker to my attention. This harsh, uncomfortable and chaotic comedy boasts an extraordinary level of risk and suspense, without losing the comedic moments that leave you laughing (awkward laughing, but laughing all the same).

Reese Witherspoon is superb as Tracy Flick, the school overachiever, whose butter-wouldn’t-melt exterior hides the fact that she’s ruthless enough to do just about anything to get ahead of the competition or get what she wants. Matthew Broderick is equally good as a slightly unlikable social studies teacher sick of seeing the likes of Tracy succeed when his life has fallen into a rut.

Election 1999

It was also enjoyable to see Chris Klein as the dopey, religious popular guy who unwittingly becomes Tracy’s arch-rival. It makes it all the more disappointing that following on from his time in American Pie, his career never took off in the way it could have.

In Election, the film’s moral message is left ambiguous. On the one hand, you love seeing Tracy fail because of her obnoxious nature and you sympathize with Broderick up to a point, but his ever more drastic actions make it hard to fully back him. This isn’t a film where good gets pitted against evil, but instead varying shades of grey clash with each other, which makes this a lot more complex than most comedies of the time and holds up a lot better also.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: