My 100 Favorite Films. Entry #34: Election.

Election (1999)
written by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor (from a novel by Tom Perrotta)
directed by Alexander Payne
starring Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon and Chris Klein
country: usa
genre: comedy

Visuals: 7
Writing: 9
Everyday watchability: 7

Every time I take a break from writing about film, and then get back into it, it's an uphill battle. I've fell out of using terms like "mise-en-scene" and "diegesis," and getting to the heart of films is awkward at best. Nevertheless, that's what I try to do. And at the heart of Election, I would say you find denial. Great big piles of it. The film is constantly showing characters voicing one opinion, but acting out another. After having seen the movie about ten times now, it's reaching the point of ridiculousness.

The film follows a teacher who, tired of an overachieving student, attempts to ruin her campaign for student body president. He comes to a point where he believes he's doing it for moral reasons, and for many viewings I was firmly on his side. This moral high-road is just another delusion however; he's really only striking out as a self-defeating means to escape his prison of boredom.

I'm making this film sound like a downer, but it's not in the least. The movie is hilarious. Their denial is played not only as a window into the viewer's own ego, but also for a good laugh. Here's a perfect example: "It's not like I'm a lesbian or anything. I'm attracted to the person. It's just that all the people I've been attracted to happen to be girls." So true.


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