‘Election’ Criterion Summary
Perky, overachieving high schooler Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) gets on the nerves of social-studies teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) to begin with, but after she launches her campaign for student-body president and his personal life starts to fall apart, things spiral out of control. In Alexander Payne’s satire Election, the teacher becomes unhealthily obsessed with cutting his student down to size, covertly backing a spoiler candidate to stop her from steamrolling to victory, and putting in motion a series of dirty tricks and reckless promises with uncanny real-world political parallels. Adapting a then-unpublished novel by Tom Perrotta, Payne grounds the absurdity of his central dynamic in the recognizable—the setting is his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, and the accomplished cast is rounded out with nonprofessionals—and distills his closely observed take on deeply flawed humanity to its bitter but stealthily sympathetic essence.
Read the full summary, and listen to our criterion review on 02/29/2020.
Director-Approved Special Edition Features
- New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised and approved by cowriter-director Alexander Payne, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- Audio commentary from 1999 featuring Payne
- New interview with actor Reese Witherspoon
- The Passion of Martin, Payne’s 1990 UCLA thesis film, with a new introduction by the director
- TruInside: “Election,” a 2016 documentary featuring on-set footage and interviews with cast and crew
- Omaha local-news reports on the film’s production
- PLUS: An essay by critic Dana Stevens
New cover by Sarah Anne Ward and Eric Skillman
Also available on iTunes