The Daily Banter Moview Review: "W" by Oliver Stone
By Ben Cohen
I just got back from the Oliver Stone George Bush biopic "W", and must confess to being completely blown away. I had read numerous reviews of the film, most of which were lukewarm or fairly scathing, so was not expecting much. But Stone's subtle, yet terrifying portrayal of the current President is a must see for anyone vaguely interested in politics. Josh Brolin's performance is certainly worthy of an Oscar, and his
mastery of Bush's body language and speech pattern is remarkable. It is worth seeing the film for that alone.
The picture itself is essentially a psychological insight into Bush's character rather than an indictment of his politics (although Stone is clearly no fan). It is perhaps the most devastating portrayal of his presidency yet.
Bush is cast as a wayward son, unable to please his domineering father, and incapable of doing anything successfully. His career as a politician is mostly an attempt to gain acceptance from his father, and Stone goes to great lengths to depict the fraught relationship he has with the 41st President. Bush Sr is the ultra successful war hero, displeased with his son's lack of achievement, and angry with him for tarnishing the Bush name. W is the black sheep of the family, intellectually deficient and terribly insecure. Stone's portrayal is not of a bad man, but rather a like-able character with no serious substance - the antithesis of what Bush Sr sees as success.
The story follows the president during the lead up to the Iraq war, and intersperses footage from his earlier years. The characterization is superb, and builds a detailed and complex picture of a man completely out of his depth and unaware of what he was a part of.
In "W", Bush is manipulated by those around him (Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld), and used to follow a radical right wing agenda that he didn't fully understand. The film almost absolves Bush of responsibility, but takes the highly critical view that he should have never been there in the first place.
Political junkies will notice that the film uses real quotes from press conferences and meetings blended with dramatizations and fictional scenarios. It flows seamlessly, and the result is an amazingly accurate portrayal of Bush and the characters around him.
I was left stunned, shocked almost at what I had seen. Stone captures the human frailty of Bush, his personal kindness and charm, but delivers a withering blow to his legacy and his party. Incompetency, corruption and hubris were the hall marks of the Bush Administration, and here, Stone pulls no punches. In "W", Bush is a likeable buffoon, obsessed with impressing his dad but grossly ill equipped to be President.
In an alternate reality, the film would be regarded as a comedy. In reality, it should be regarded as a horror film.