W. (Oliver Stone) 2008

I’ll start off by saying that the statements saying W. was a more kind portrayal of the current President are very accurate.  I think it is due to the fact that Stone doesn’t have to get on his soapbox and rant and rave about all the things that went wrong in the Bush presidency.  I think Stone has enough confidence to pull the camera back and tell the audience to simply look at the man’s actions and judge for yourself.

The movie follows Bush through the initial planning of the Iraq War and its first few years.  We are given flashes back to Bush from the 60’s to the presidency.  The main conflict brought by Stone is that of H.W. Bush and W. Bush.  Here, H.W obviously favors Jeb Bush, and wants to put him in the White House.  Meanwhile, he has nothing but contempt for his screw up drunk son W.  Many of the actions W. makes are to win the approval of H.W. and to earn recognition away from Jeb.

In this movie, W. is not an evil man.  He firmly believes what he is doing is right and he is finishing his father’s actions in Iraq.  Really, W. is more of a man-child that is crying out for attention.  At first, he is spoiled and obnoxious as alcohol dominates much of his early life.  Then he becomes a born again Christian, and is focused on earning the respect of his father and the Bush name by pursuing a life in politics.  What we notice, is that Bush is the puppet of much more keener intellects like that of Rove and Cheney.  W. becomes Rove’s mouthpiece while we see him lurking in the shadows.  People like Colin Powell try to talk reason into W. but are no match for two people which are constantly in his ears.

Brolin is great as W., who knows not to camp up the performance and keeps himself restrained.  Also good are James Cromwell, Jeffrey Wright, and Toby Jones.  We see those trademark Bushisms, but I want people to make sure this is not an SNL skit.  This is a pretty straight performance, but you have to realize that these slip ups are just a part of George W.

The movie is not a Shakespearian tragedy and I think that disappointed a few critics who were expecting Stone’s usual over the top attitude behind the camera.    But as I said before, I think Stone trusts the man’s actions to speak for itself instead of bloated drama.  If there is one negative to the movie, its that the ending doesn’t quite have the punch I was expecting.  I was looking for a knockout blow from Stone to really send the point home, but the ending just seems to fizzle.  Overall I think this was a very good movie.  It has a few good laughs plus a story that keeps you interested through the bulk of the movie.  It will probably still be polarizing to many people despite Stone’s efforts, but I recommend it.


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