Sunday, October 19, 2008
Movie Reviews: W.
The life and controversial presidency of George W. Bush (Josh Brolin).
Cast: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn, Thandie
Newton, Richard Dreyfuss
Director: Oliver Stone
Opened October 17, 2008
Runtime: 2 hr. 11 min.
Rated PG-13 for language including sexual references, some alcohol abuse,
smoking and brief disturbing war images
Genres: Political Drama, Biopic [feature], Drama
W. is not what you'd expect from Oliver Stone, it lacks his usual edge to be honest if I didn't know Stone directed it I'd never assume he did. Does that mean W. is a bad movie, no not really. It's a somewhat flawed if straight forward film that never delves too deep into most of the political issues outside of a few. Instead we are given broad melodrama dealing mostly with Dubya's daddy issues. It's intriguing and engrossing to watch but it feels lacking. Stone does do a good job of painting a fairly well balanced picture of a man that polarizes just about anyone. Josh Brolin does a fantastic job in the lead role and avoids the easy pitfall of falling into caricature. Brolin performance is excellent, nailing the mannerism and tenor of speech. He holds this film together as he make Dubya an almost sympathetic character as we see, the film's told with intermingled flash backs to his younger days while coming back to his presidency, his rise to power. The rest of cast is filled with excellent actors and actresses, some of whom are frightening close to the real thing. Elizabeth Banks brings sincerity to her portrayal of Laura Bush and she has some good chemisty with Brolin. Richard Dreyfuss is spot on as Dick Cheney and gives a solid supporting turn here. Also excellent in a supporting turn is Jeffrey Wright, who lacks the physical likeness of Colin Powell, who gives character a surprising amount of depth. Ellen Burstyn and James Cromwell both do very well and the momma and "poppy" Bush with both getting some great lines to deliver. Thandie Newton doesn't fair as well as her Condi Rice is nearly mute through most of the film and portrayed as nothing more than a "yes" woman. Toby Jones plays it a little to devious as Karl Rove but he's still gives an interesting performance. Solid performances make for a solid film but Stone makes a few miscues. Some of the musical choices are pretty amateur and his bookend scenes of Dubya in the outfield doesn't achieve the intended effect. W. feels like a film that might have benefited from a bit more distance from the actual events, the film was shot quickly so it could be released before the upcoming election, so it'd have more perspective on the decisions made during Dubya's presidency.