By Dave Campbell | January 19, 2009
Director: Oliver Stone
Writer(s): Stanley Weiser
Staring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Thandie Newton, Jeffery Wright, Ellen Burstyn, Richard Dreyfuss
Plot set up:
W. is a spotty take on certain events in the life of the 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush. From his college pledging (Skull & Bones) days at Yale, to his 2 terms in the highest office of the land, we peek into the life of Dubya.
Love or hate the man, W. the film attempts an inside look at moments in the life of George W. Bush. I went into this film expecting the “daring” Oliver Stone to press the boundaries. I wanted his controversy, stirring political drama, and critical takes on historical figures and events. What I got… “What’s that Oliver? Oh you’ve gone objective & soft? Touché Mr. Stone…touché!”
Josh Brolin is the best thing about W. He nails the “good ol boy” persona and leaves you with a surprisingly sympathetic response to all of W’s shenanigans throughout the story. The voice, walk, and presence were all well studied and executed. The dialog is pretty well written but the story leaves out parts of his life, including his well publicized daughters and some of the most pivotal and defining moments of his presidency.
On the other hand, in a shocking turn Thandie Newton (Condoleezza Rice) provides us with one of the cartooniest performances in recent history. It was not only distracting in each scene she appeared, but it also brought the film down several notches all on its own. Think SNL take on Condoleezza Rice, not serious Bio-Pic Condoleezza Rice. However, Jeffery Wright (Colin Powell), James Cromwell (George H. W. Bush), Toby Jones (Karl Rove), Elizabeth Banks (Laura Bush) , Ellen Burstyn (Barbara Bush) all bring the goods to their respective roles while Richard Dreyfuss (Dick Cheney) was bland and underwhelming .
In conclusion I think a biographical take on the United States’ 43rd was and remains to be premature. I prefer a little time to pass and think we should let the story end before the production begins. New requirement: Hollywood must wait for the subject to be a memory and not a current figure or event.