With 'The Ides of March' on the way, a state of the filmpolitik union
3. “Election” (Alexander Payne, 1999)
Alexander Payne’s best film may be one of the fleetest, funniest examinations of the high school power ladder ever made, but as a deconstruction of the vulgarities and inequalities of any electoral process, it’s also pretty hard to top. And that’s before you factor in that Tom Perrotta’s source novel was inspired by Ross Perot’s third-party candidacy in the 1992 Clinton-Bush presidential race. As Tracy Flick, the steel-eyed, cupcake-wielding overachiever running for student body president under her unshakable “Pick Flick!” slogan, Reese Witherspoon’s wicked comic performance skewered the heart of every cynical heartland campaigner, yet Payne cannily makes her a victim of the game anyway.