Warren Beatty’s a smart guy, and Bulworth (which he co-wrote and directed) is a very smart movie. It’s also, by turns, hilarious, messy, undisciplined, sobering, impassioned and self-righteous. In other words, it’s a lot like American politics. Beatty plays Jay Bulworth, a United States Senator from California. A progressive liberal who was inspired when young (as Beatty himself was) by JFK, MLK, RFK and other Sixties icons, but who has grown profoundly disillusioned with America’s money-fueled political machinery, Bulworth is a man pushed to the brink by his own acquiescence in a system he finds revolting. When he finally snaps and, like a cross between Network’s Howard Beale and Liar Liar’s Fletcher Reede, begins saying the sorts of things that no one ever has the guts to utter, the movie feels like something we haven’t really seen before: namely, a Hollywood flick driven by outrage at the way big-time American politics work and sorrow over what we, ruled as we are by bought-and-sold politicians, have lost. Bonus: Halle Berry, before she became a movie star, is electrifying here, playing a tough-minded, streetwise beauty and problematic “exotic” muse to Beatty’s tortured white liberal.
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