Friday, October 17, 2008

"W." strives for acceptance

My freelance review of W., which opens today:
According to recent polls, nearly three-fourths of Americans disapprove of George W. Bush's performance as president.

Oliver Stone's new film W. explores aspects of this performance -- as well as Bush as a young adult trying to find his place in the world.

Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men) is effective as Bush. He has many of his quirky mannerisms down as the film bounces back and forth between the post-9/11, wartime Oval Office and the 1980s/90s struggles between Bush and his father (played by James Cromwell).

The Oval Office scenes are mostly focused on the Iraq War and Bush's interactions with his immediate staff (including Richard Dreyfess' spot-on depiction of Dick Cheney, Scott Glenn's Donald Rumsfeld, Thandie Newton's Condoleeza Rice, and Toby Jones' rather creepy portrayal of Karl Rove).

At 131 minutes, the film is a bit on the long side. But there's a fair amount of humor interspersed within Stone's portrait of Bush, which is more human and complex than expected. Recurrently throughout the film, Bush is displayed as someone very much in need of his father's acceptance.

At this point, if you're among the 25% who approval of Bush's performance, you might want to refrain from seeing W. to keep your blood pressure in check. Otherwise, your political leanings will probably dictate just how much you would appreciate or not appreciate W.

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