Jonathan Crocker

Editorial Director | Journalist

Film review: W.

Posted by Jonathan On November - 1 - 2008

w1Thrown into cinemas before its subject’s reign is even over, Oliver Stone’s awkwardly enjoyable biopic of George W Bush is a surprise: it actually goes easy on him.

Flashing back and forth through time, it traces George’s weird, weird journey to White House war-monger: a drunken frat-boy turned drunken job-dodger who finally swaps grog for God aged 40 to become born-again as American’s worst President.

Sure, the gaffes are all here: W signing off on “simulated drowning” as an interrogation technique (“Kind of reminds me of my fraternity days!”), grumbling that Saddam is “always misunderestimating me”, discussing the “Guantanamera” detention centre or choking on a mouthful of crisps.

But Stone portrays Bush not so much as an idiot, but rather a simple, sincere man out of his depth and manipulated by his inner circle. Josh Brolin pulls a sympathetic impersonation as W – even hinting at deeper self-doubt and smarts. Well, maybe. We see “Junior” struggling to prove himself to Poppy Bush (James Cromwell), but Stone’s film never cuts into the psychological meat of the man.

Far sharper, more frightening observations arrive via the superb support cast – extraordinary likenesses, too – not least Toby Jones’ sly Karl Rove and Richard Dreyfuss’ insidious Dick Cheney, shown puppet-mastering W into a disastrous oil-driven war with Iraq.

Call it a comedy of errors. But really – as brief footage of dead soldiers bluntly reminds us – Bush’s legacy is no laughing matter. That fact Stone doesn’t skewer W as hard as he could or should, misses the chance for some kind of catharsis.

RATING:  

Read the original article at TheLondonPaper.

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Jonathan is a London-based journalist, critic and editor. He currently works for data visualisation agency Beyond Words.

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