The Contender features Joan Allen as a woman nominated to fill the Vice President's position. The movie focuses on process of confirming her. Explicit material surfaces early on about her having had a lurid college encounter with several boys at a frat party. The Contender is about politics, and the ruthless divisiveness of the system. Joan Allen's character remains steely and calm, refusing to address the allegations, which is at times very tense and frustrating to watch.
The Contender is taut and riveting, with complexities and plot twists, and very, very good acting.