Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Major lesbian character
Short Take: A character very similar to Bill Clinton runs for president of the United States. One of his key staffers is a lesbian (Kathy Bates).
Alternate Titles:
Year: 1998
Duration: 143 min
Language: France, UK, Germany, USA, Japan/English
Director: Mike Nichols
Writer: Joe Klein, Elaine May
Starring: John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Adrian Lester, Maura Tierney, Larry Hagman, Diane Ladd, Paul Guilfoyle, Rebecca Walker, Caroline Aaron, Tommy Hollis, Rob Reiner, Ben Jones, J.C. Quinn

Primary Colors Trailer

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Primary Colors

So often my expectations for a film featuring lesbian characters are low. I don’t expect great actors, scripts or production values, but Primary Colors is all of those things, with an especially impressive cast. John Travolta plays Jack Stanton, a southern governor running for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States – a thinly disguised Bill Clinton.

What we see is politics up close, with the caring, genuine politician we could believe in, as well as the dark side of cover-ups and questions about both personal and political morality.

Emma Thompson is Susan Stanton, the politically savvy and publicly supportive wife (aka Hillary), with another wonderful performance. The moral compass on the staff is Libby Holden (Kathy Bates, Fried Green Tomatoes), a woman who describes her job as cleaning up the dirt, but she is also the one who clings to political idealism.

A lesbian, Libby swings into the new office and chooses her assistant because she looks like Winona Rider. The next time we see the two, Libby and the much younger Jennifer (Stacy Edwards) are living together and kissing one another in front of other staffers. Bates and her slightly crazy character dominate her scenes, and she received a well deserved Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Others in the cast include Billy Bob Thornton, Adrian Lester, Allison Janney (The Hours, ‘The West Wing’) and Rebecca Walker (Ms Magazine contributing editor).  (AB)