True Colors represents a cloyingly schematic attempt to portray the political and moral bankruptcy of the 1980s in a neat little package. Pic condemns but doesn’t begin to analyze the corrupted values of the Reagan years, leaving one feeling soiled but unenlightened.
Paired off at law school at the U of Virginia in 1983, James Spader is a rich boy with the daughter of US senator Richard Widmark as a girlfriend, while John Cusack is pretender, a social climber whose lower-class roots are quickly exposed.
Cusack, a bluffer and something of a charmer, resolves to be elected to Congress within 10 years. He launches a political career based upon trickery, blackmail and betrayal, and receives backing from interests represented by oily developer Mandy Patinkin.
Personal relationships fall by the wayside like roadkill. Having scooped Spader’s g.f. (Imogen Stubbs) out from under him, Cusack then loses her when he stupidly threatens her powerful father.
Cusack does what he can, but the character is simply weighed down with too much symbolic baggage. Yet again playing a privileged preppie type, Spader is likable but suffers from his character being pushed to the side mid-stream.