W. (Stone, 2008)


Absent the deserved tar and feathering, Oliver Stone’s strange biopic on George W. Bush purposefully straddles the fence, painting our soon to be ex-president with a calculating and limiting brush. Stone sees his subject as a product of Daddy issues and anxiety, a volatile boomerang of suave charm and self-loathing who attempts to fill his forefathers shoes but fails, turns to binge drinking, and then finds Jesus. Josh Brolin’s admirable performance fills the void produced by the countless lesser ones surrounding him (why is Thandie Newton channelling James Cagney to play Condoleezza Rice?). Considering the devastating ramifications of Bush’s Presidency, the film feels slight, unimportant, and almost unforgivably benign. Call it a six pack of Bush-lite. While seemingly devoid of structure, W. tries to follow a loose timeline of events surrounding Bush’s rise to the presidency, but the result ends up inconsequential at best. The true failure of Stone’s work only comes into focus after the credit’s role, when such a forgettable text slowly fades into the unforgettable real nightmare of the last eight years; the war, torture, and fraud that defines Bush’s legacy.

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