Politics is not a place to look for saints or heroes. But it holds a certain fascination. There is a connection between the dark side and the light. Orson Welles sensed that and in his last screenplay written in 1981-82, he entered this theme park with relish. Director George Hickenlooper has changed some of the elements in Welles's story while still retaining its focus on politics, power, and secrets from the past.
Blake Pellarin (William Hurt) is running for governor of Missouri backed by the funds of his rich and domineering wife Dinah (Miranda Richardson). However, just when everything seems to be going his way, the front-runner finds himself caught in a three-way squeeze. Kim Meneker (Nigel Hawthorne), his mentor and a former senator, appears on the scene with a blackmail photo and family skeletons involving a frustrated sibling. Cela Brandini (Irene Jacob), an ambitious European journalist, is following the campaign closely hoping to find a juicy scandal that will give her career a leap forward. And finally, there is Pellarin's bodyguard (Ewan Stewart) who has his own dreams of taking advantage of the politician and his wealthy wife.
Politics remains a tricky business where only the thick-skinned can survive. It is interesting to watch Pellarin squirm as he deals with his troubles while still holding high in his mind the dream of being president the fabled "brass ring."