Mike Nichols directed this Elaine May screenplay adapted from the 1996 bestseller by "Anonymous" (Joe Klein), who fictionalized Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign. In the New Hampshire primary, Governor Jack Stanton (John Travolta) convinces Henry Burton (Adrian Lester), grandson of a respected civil rights pioneer, to become his deputy campaign manager. Stanton's smart wife Susan (Emma Thompson) always comes through with public support for her philandering husband. The film's parallel for James Carville is Stanton's redneck advisor Richard Jemmons (Billy Bob Thornton), who knows every strategy and tactic but worries, "The woman thing, that's the killer." Sure enough, problems during the New Hampshire primary include charges of adultery. To get a handle on past peccadillos, Stanton's staff brings in an old family friend, lesbian Libby Holden (Kathy Bates), who knows how to clean up dirt. Stanton, a strong debater, moves on to Florida and New York. When one opposing candidate drops dead of a heart attack, he's replaced by Florida's Governor Fred Picker (Larry Hagman), but Holden holds the skeleton key to the skeleton in Picker's closet. Just how the Stantons put this information to use reveals whether they are ruthless politicians or inspirational leaders with ideals.
Primary Colors is a vastly under-rated film, with terrific performances from all (particularly Travolta and Emma Thompson), but the blu-ray is sub-standard, with decent color but sharpening and edge-enhancement highly noticeable. Still, it's a slight step up from the DVD, but should have been a much better blu-ray
Whether its all imagined or not it makes a great movie. Travolta has all the gestures perfect, Emma Thompson is superb, and Bates, et. al. do their typical best in this film. For a person active in politics, a former lobbyist, and even an admirer of clinton's presidency like me (tho he should have not been a philanderer), the fiction has enough reality of the political world to be both funny and dark satire at the same time. At 3.99 you MUST add this to your collection. And as i say in my reviews, dont bother with bluray, its an expensive joke with most movies... 1080 does great except for a few scenes in a few movies.