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W., Reviewed


Jill Garvey • Nov 08, 2008

When I heard director Oliver Stone was making a movie about George W. Bush, I was intrigued. So intrigued, in fact, I bought my tickets ahead of time and waited in line with my boyfriend to get into the theater. As we waited, the previous showing was emptying out. The looks on the faces of exiting moviegoers should have been indication enough to drop our tickets and run. Nobody was smiling or talking, just a solemn, silent procession out of the theater. Two hours and nine minutes later I understood why.

So much was wrong with this movie that it’s hard to know where to begin, though the biggest blunder perhaps, is that it just wasn’t very entertaining. Hard to believe that the current President of the United States’ life isn’t intriguing enough to fill a two hour biopic, but he as the central character was the least engaging. Which begs to question, how accurate is Oliver Stone’s Bush? Stone seemed more intent on portraying Bush’s bad personal habits, see the repeated close-ups of Bush eating with his mouth open, than developing a deeper character. Was the movie meant to be a farce or a serious biopic? That was never made clear unfortunately. Either one would have been acceptable; if it was a farce then we could have all had a good laugh and gone home. If it was made in earnest it would have had to take much more brutal blows at the judgement and character of Bush and his current administration.

Josh Brolin as Bush does manage to lose himself in his character, which is commendable considering the material he had to work with. The rest of the cast for the most part does a brilliant job impersonating their characters. Thandie Newton is obviously a talented actor, and I wouldn’t have opposed her as Condoleeza Rice, if only Rice was indeed emaciated and had a twitchy eye.

The movie redeems itself during its administration meeting and war room scenes when the tense interactions of the other characters lend a much needed spark. Karl Rove (Toby Jones) and Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss) practically coil themselves around Bush’s neck throughout the movie, and Cheney’s and Colin Powell’s (Jeffrey Wright) hatred for one another is delightfully palpable.

Where Stone really missed the mark, was not accounting for most viewers already intimate knowledge of Bush - most of us unfortunately have his annoying mannerisms already seared into our memories. The guy has been in the public eye for 10 years now after all, and we’ve been watching this horror flick play out for 8 of them. A two hour rerun of the whole thing seemed a mite torturous.

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