Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Drama W. – presidential portrait

W. – presidential portrait

Director: Oliver Stone
Cast: Josh Borlin, James Cronwell, and Elizabeth Banks
Rating: PG-13
Year: 2008
Running Time: 129

George W. Bush is obviously referred to as a very controversial figure. Director Oliver Stone takes a more human look at depicting the life of Bush. In the film W., we get Stone’s interpretation of a life and presidency that has greatly affected America’s course of history.

W. switches back and forth between events leading up to the 2003 Iraq war and the youth of George W. Bush. Specifically the youth of Bush starts from his college days and initiating into a fraternity. (It would have been nice to see Bush’s upbringing as child, but the start of his youth is appropriate.) Afterwards we see the many struggles Bush has with maintaining a career and his clashes with his father. After failing at many things and overcoming alcoholism, Bush successfully finds himself as governor of Texas. The film eventually transitions toward the end of focusing solely on the events of the 2003 Iraq war.

The film W. takes a more human view of George W. Bush and gives events through his point of view. Stone himself has said that this isn’t political commentary but a biographical film about how Bush became who he is. (Which I would say that he succeeded in doing.) We see the gamut of emotions; both positive and negative sides of Bush are on display. (Such his partying in his youth, as well as his anger at being bested during a debate for a congressional seat) Josh Brolin has done a reasonable imitation of Bush’s speech pattern, and has him brought to life as a human being instead of a figure seen in the news. But some of the other portrayals of Bush administration figures at times came off as standup comedy like impressions. (Notably Thandie Newton’s depiction of Condoleezza Rice somewhat sounded like she was speaking with her teeth clenched.) I would say the portrayals that probably didn’t sound like the character that they were based on probably came out best. An example being James Cromwell’s role as George Bush SR., which is a convincing depiction of a father having to deal with his son’s troubles. (To a lesser extent, Elizabeth Bank’s role as Laura Bush is convincing as well.)

On top of this we also have the story of overcoming adversity and the relationship between father and son.  The early years of Bush include many ways in which he is personally flawed and the way he managed to climb out of the problems created by them. He goes through many years of having no direction as a careless youth and then eventually decides that he wants prove himself to his father as he starts to realize who he has become. Brolin definitely does a good showing of Bush as somebody who decided to learn things the hard way. The gradual transition from somebody who doesn’t give a damn to a serious business man and politician is smooth enough to believe. Indeed this film does fascinate in explaining how such a troubled man rose all the way to the presidency. Along with this, Brolin’s interaction with Cromwell is a well execution of Bush SR. having to bail his son out of jail and pull strings behind the scenes in order for him to find employment. Fights between Bush and his father felt like actual tension as he is constantly told that he is ruining the Bush family. Bush SR. eventually saying that he is proud of his son is also an appropriate transition.

W, lets us know how it is to be George W. Bush . Despite what political ideology someone may hold, Stone has given us a reasonable depiction of a biography. This film deserves a viewing.

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