- Director:Oliver Stone
- Cast:Elizabeth Banks, Josh Brolin, Richard Dreyfuss, Toby Jones, Thandie Newton
- Release Date:February 26, 2009
- Running time:131 minutes
- Film Worth:$13.50
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“…funny, fast paced and highly enjoyable…”
When it was first announced that ageing enfant terrible Oliver Stone was making a biopic about George W. Bush, that most maligned of American Presidents, the response was similar to the one that greeted the director's previous film, World Trade Center: what the hell would he do with such volatile material? Would this be the most controversial film of his controversial career? In both cases, the answer is a resounding no. In tackling such recent, ripped-from-the-headlines, obviously divisive material, Stone seems to have almost shut himself out of the game. Because of the enormity of the subject matter, Stone feels a little bowed, as if he intentionally doesn't want to do what everyone thinks he'll do: namely, go to town on the material. That said, W. remains a funny, fast paced and highly enjoyable experience.
At the film's centre is the brilliant Josh Brolin, who really gets under Bush's skin, first as a hard drinking, carefree college boy, through to his religious conversion, and onto his Presidency, where he stalks The White House like the new sheriff in town. Brolin finds all of the humour, uncertainty and occasional idiocy of this complex man, who's portrayed as something of a desperate dreamer, always struggling to find his niche. W's competitive, love-hate relationship with his father, George Bush Sr. (James Cromwell), provides the real grist of the film. Stone's depiction of the US political scene, meanwhile, is expectedly corrosive, with nepotism, self aggrandisement and avarice well and truly driving proceedings.
Tonally, W. is a little adrift, and the performances range from the excellent (Richard Dreyfuss as a Machiavellian Dick Cheney, Toby Jones as a puckish Karl Rove) to the flat-out bizarre (Thandie Newton's Condoleezza Rice is jarring, to say the least). More character piece than the expected tragedy or parody, W. is surprisingly good fun.