Directed by Oliver Stone
Written by Stanley Weiser
Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn, Richard Dreyfuss, Toby Jones, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Scott Glenn, Bruce McGill, Noah Wyle, Jennifer Sipes, Ioan Gruffudd.
Release Year: 2008
IMDB rating: 6.8

The George W. Bush’s biopic tells the chronicle of his journey from the his early days in Yale until the decisive pre-emptive strike on Iraq in 2003. It was not a movie condemning the 43rd US President for his government of the most powerful nation in the world. Rather, director Oliver Stone tried to approach it from the personal side of W. How he felt that his father had never felt satisfied for anything that he ever achieved, and that his brother Jeb was always his father’s favorite. Despite some acceptance later after W’s successful campaign as the Governor of Texas, and later his victory to become the President of the United States, the relationship between W. and his father remained somewhat cold.

Interestingly enough, according to the movie, it was this family problem that pushed W. into alcoholism, and then his conversion into Christianity which, ultimately made him convinced that he was selected personally by God to become the President of the United States. His decision to invade Iraq was described as an act to finish what his father couldn’t but should have finished years before during the first Gulf War. It was also described that there was a disagreement among his aides regarding the invasion on Iraq, where on one side Colin Powell and George Tenet (played by Jeffrey Wright and Bruce McGill, respectively), were reluctant, while on the other side the rest of the aides, noticeably Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld (portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss and Scott Glenn, respectively), were urging for taking the initiative of attacking Iraq despite the absence of any proofs regarding WMD.

If this film was intended to let us see things from the perspective of W.’s private life, then this movie had accomplished that mission well. The cast were absolutely great. I think all of the actors deserved the credit, especially Josh Brolin, James Cromwell, Richard Dreyfuss, Bruce McGill, and Jeffrey Wright. I didn’t write ‘actresses’ because their roles were trampled by the brilliant plays by the actors. Thandie Newton got only minor role as Condoleezza Rice, while Elizabeth Banks seemed to be unable to impress me. Richard Dreyfuss managed to deliver that cunning look of Dick Cheney, while Jeffrey Wright was very good in portraying the reluctant Colin Powell.

Yet, the top performers, I think, were Josh Brolin and James Cromwell. The frustration of the young W. and his eventual great confidence (after his conversion) were played brilliantly by Josh Brolin. I was especially impressed with James Cromwell’s performance during the scene where he was defeated during the 1992 election. The devastated look from his face was a perfect act. I could not help but sympathize for that, but well, that’s politics.

Oliver Stone’s choice to tell the plot by moving forward and backwards throughout the movie was enjoyable. One event lacking exposure here was the 9/11, and it should be noted that along with the softer view on W., this movie implied that W. was rather a victim of the people surrounding him, especially in Iraq issue. But in the end, the main strength of this movie lies in the acting prowess of the actors. Whether there were historical inaccuracies in the movie, I don’t know, because I won’t bother too much to research the details. And in politics, there will always be disputes over the facts. I'm no W. sympathizer, but I’d give it an 8.0. It was a great film, but not spectacular.

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