Monday, June 14, 2010

W: stone me twice

any kind of government will do, as long as it's a democracy

Oliver Stone's W. assembles a great cast led by a marvelleous performance by Josh Brolin as the worst American president in several years in a film that is remarkably restrained; in fact, if you considered Born on the Fourth of July, Platoon and Natural Born Killers as representative films of the director, you'd possibly be stupefied to find out that Stone had helmed this. This doesn't imply that W. was a terrible film. With a judicious mix of the present and flashbacks, interesting musical cues and research, Stone delivers the tale of a less-than-worthy son, who struggled hard to get out of his father's shadow and unfortunately strode into national politics despite knowing little to nothing about governing a nation. It's a muted horror story, especially for those who have lived through both his presidential terms. There's also humour and a sampling of the famous howlers that GWB delivered to the press. The film curiously works as an intimate look at famous figures from the outside. The distance is telling, because at the end I felt short-changed: I would have loved to see some balance for Thandie Newton's role as Condoleezza Rice, some more frames for Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush and perhaps a more intimate exploration of the man who seemed to succeed by pure determination and by being able to seem to endear to the hearts of many.

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