Directed by: Oliver Stone
Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks , James Cromwell.
Showing at: Area theaters
It seems like an odd endeavor to make a film depicting a living president, especially when he’s still in office. Time has offered little insight into the events that transpired during the last eight years and the surface of George W. Bush’s psyche has barely been scratched. Without all the facts that will undoubtedly arise in the coming years, director Oliver Stone was forced to make some giant leaps of faith in his depiction of the 43rd president of the United States; the result is a film that is moderately entertaining, despite its potential inaccuracies.
“W.” is Stone’s third directorial venture into the presidential biopic, following the controversial “JFK” and the supposedly defamatory “Nixon.” While it’s not overly controversial or biased, “W.” takes a number of jabs at the administration, but these shots are measured and generally come at the expense of cabinet members.
Bush, on the other hand, while looking wholly dim-witted, is depicted in a surprisingly sympathetic light. In some scenes he is portrayed with gentle endearment; he’s like a doe-eyed puppy that, desperate for his father’s affection, happened to fall into the politics game. On the other hand, he’s viewed with a kind of admiration; this is a man who overcame alcoholism, a rowdy past and a handful of personal failures to become the leader of the free world.
“W.” is much more of an exploration into Bush’s maturation and spiritual development than it is a chastisement of his politics. The movie does address the handling of the Iraq war, but focuses more on Bush’s growth through the formative moments in his life. We witness his beginnings as a frat boy at Chug-a-lug House, his botched attempts at working straight jobs and his unsuccessful run for the House of Representatives. With all the failure in his life, it is, frankly, absurd that this man became president. This would be an incredible rags-to-riches story, if Bush hadn’t been rolling in his father’s money his whole life.
The film also makes an assertion that Bush was victim to an Oedipal complex that defined his life. While his brother Jeb is portrayed as a super cool wunderkind, George is consistently the bane of his father’s existence, or at least George perceives himself as such. The film asserts that this complex played a part in Bush’s haste in invading Iraq, as he tried to one-up his non-Saddam-overthrowing father. The Oedipal theory culminates in a dream sequence where H.W. Bush challenges his son to a fight in the Oval Office, which leaves W. whimpering in his bed.
Bush is played effortlessly by Josh Brolin (“No Country for Old Men”), who leads an ensemble cast that includes Ellen Burstyn , Richard Dreyfuss and James Cromwell . Brolin is undoubtedly the most impressive element in the otherwise average film; he nails Bush’s speech, his walk and his mannerisms. The actual Bush is such a character that Brolin’s portrayal seems all too real; at times you forget you’re watching an actor and you cringe at the ridiculous things that “Bush” says.
The other performances in the film serve as more of a mockery than a character study, which isn’t to say they’re entirely off. The portrayals of Karl Rove and Condoleezza Rice are a bit over-the-top, but are still pretty funny, as the duo are widely disliked in reality. The notable exceptions are Cromwell’s H.W. Bush, who is portrayed with a certain reverence and Jeffrey Wright’s Colin Powell, who is seen as the reluctant voice of reason during the planning stages of the Iraq war.
The other portrayals are in some ways damaging to the film’s bias, not in how they negatively depict cabinet members, but in how they alleviate much of the blame from Bush, who is seen as a mere pawn of Rumsfeld and Cheney. It seems that in Stone’s overwhelming effort to be fair and balanced, he might have inadvertently gone too far.
The film does have its moments and Bush’s rise to power is particularly intriguing, but overall it doesn’t seem to ascend past average. While the script is by no means spectacular, Brolin's performance is worth seeing. Chances are that if you’re part of the 73 percent of Americans that disapprove of Bush, you’ll come out of the movie having had a laugh or two and, potentially, gaining a modicum of respect for the man. While the film is not Stone’s finest work, it is fascinating to see a portrayal of Bush that is anything less than overwhelmingly negative.
UMN students have traveled to Florida colleges to collaborate with students on various projects.
When UMN students plan for a vacation, having trip cancellation travel insurance is a worthwhile commodity to check out.
Minneapolis Used Cars
Give back to the Minnesota community with a boat donation at boat4causes.org.
If you have been involved in a car accident call a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer for a free consultation.