A Life Misunderestimated.
"Endlessly intriguing! Josh Brolin is awe-inspiring. Oliver Stone reminds us why he's a truly essential American filmmaker. Christopher Kelly, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
|Whether you love him or hate him, there is no question that George W. Bush is one of the most controversial public figures in recent memory. In an unprecedented undertaking, acclaimed director Oliver Stone brings the life of our 43rd President to the big screen as only he can. W. takes viewers through Bush's eventful life -- his struggles and triumphs, how he found both his wife and his faith, and of course the critical days leading up to Bush's decision to invade Iraq.|
"This film is extraordinary. In terms of a portrait of a man who became President, it is arguably the best film made. Harry Knowles, Ain't It Cool News
"Mission accomplished! Funny, fascinating and frightening. Oliver Stone's W. is wild...and pretty wonderful. Lee Grant, San Diego Union-Tribune
"Fascinating from beginning to end! Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
"Entertaining, empathetic and down-right funny! Thelma Adams, US Weekly
One might expect sparks to fly when one of America's most controversial filmmakers decides to take on America's most controversial president. Oliver Stone's biopic of George W. Bush, however, is rather gentle on the president; and, while the film clearly paints Dubya as a fool and makes no excuses for the debacle that has been his presidency, it does offer a surprisingly sympathetic character study of the man behind the chaos.Told in a series of flashbacks that play as his greatest hits, W. portrays Bush (Josh Brolin) as a privileged yet decidedly lost soul. Stone makes light humor of the president's frequent malapropisms and complete lack of intellectual curiosity, but he places the dramatic focus on Bush's desperate attempts to get respect and acceptance from his father. While Bush's backstory and psychology make for relatively interesting drama, his place in history has nonetheless been formed entirely by his eight years as president. In this area, Stone's film offers almost nothing new; however, what W. lacks in revelations and insight, it makes up for with some wonderful performances. The supporting cast--which includes Ellen Burstyn (as Barbara Bush), Richard Dreyfuss (as Dick Cheney), James Cromwell (George H. W. Bush), and Jeffery Wright (as Colin Powell)--all offer nuanced performances that perfectly balance impersonation with genuinely evocative acting. Elizabeth Banks is both sympathetic and understandable as Laura Bush, presenting a woman who stands by her man not simply out of loyalty but also out of love. Brolin must also be given credit for a performance that deftly avoids parody in favor of something born from a true actor. In the end W. is a somewhat unremarkable film, yet its very existence is shocking; in that respect, it almost perfectly mirrors George W. Bush and his rise to power.
Cast & Crew
"Brolin is clearly party leader -- nailing Bush's posture and gestures without stooping to easy mannerism, conveying the contradictions of a polarizing president with real generosity..."
"The performances are good (some scarily realistic), and the movie is enjoyable....W. is absorbing and amusing to ruminate over."
Los Angeles Times
"W. is not a dispassionate biography; it is an interpretation of personality intersecting with history, and as a piece of drama it is persuasive and perfectly creditable."
New York Times
"[I]t does something most journalism and even documentaries can't or won't do: it reminds us what a long strange trip it's been to the Bush White House."
3 stars out of 5 -- "Josh Brolin excels, bristling with energy....Brolin does an excellent job inhabiting without impersonating..."
"Brolin and Cromwell go at it with vigor, giving the film the psychological resonance it needs."
ReelViews 6 of 10
It would be grossly unfair to criticize W. as a hatchet job - it's too clumsy for such a description to apply. This movie frequently feels like the shotgun marriage of Nightline and Saturday Night Live. Superficial, uninformative, and inert, this two hour snoozefest isn't even inflammatory enough to stoke a righteous anti-Bush brushfire. W. does for recent history what Oliver Stone's epic Alexander did for ancient times...W. uses pop psychology to "analyze" the 43d U.S. President and "uncover" his motives. Stone's thesis is that all George W. Bush does is with the goal of earning the love and respect of his father, two things that have been withheld from him. Or, to put it another way, he has Daddy issues. This is the only potential insight offered by W. and it is hammered home with a relentless lack of subtlety and sophistication. Putting aside the buffoonery that characterizes Josh Brolin's over-the-top mimicry of the title character, this is Bush's sole personality trait. Instead of taking this opportunity to provide viewers with a compelling portrait of one of the worst Presidents in this country's short history, Stone has taken the easy way out...The last eight years have been among the most turbulent in recent history and there's no doubt that a docudrama about the Bush presidency could have been a fascinating piece of historical speculation. Unfortunately, with its jokey tone and uneven dramatic momentum, W. is not that movie. The film appears to have been conceived with a single audience in mind: those who are more interested in belittling Bush than understanding him. Stone provides the skeleton; we use our own pre-conceptions about the man to add the flesh and sinew. As anti-Bush propaganda, W. is effective. As a movie, it's not.
- James Berardinelli
Chicago Sun-Times 10 of 10
Oliver Stone's "W.," a biography of President Bush, is fascinating. No other word for it. I became absorbed in its story of a poor little rich kid's alcoholic youth and torturous adulthood. This is the tragedy of a victim of the Peter Principle. Wounded by his father's disapproval and preference for his brother Jeb, the movie argues, George W. Bush rose and rose until he was finally powerful enough to stain his family's legacy...Unlike Stone's "JFK" and "Nixon," this film contains no revisionist history. Everything in it, including the scenes behind closed doors, is now pretty much familiar from tell-all books by former Bush aides, and reporting by such reporters as Bob Woodward. Though Stone and his writer, Stanley Weiser, could obviously not know exactly who said what and when, there's not a line of dialogue that sounds like malicious fiction. It's all pretty much as published accounts have prepared us for...Many of the actors somewhat resemble the people they play. The best is Dreyfuss as Cheney, who is not so much a double as an embodiment. The film's portrait of George Senior is sympathetic; it shows him giving Junior the cuff links that were "the only real thing" his own father, Sen. Prescott Bush, ever gave him. The name and the oedipal complex were passed down the family tree...One might feel sorry for George W. at the end of this film, were it not for his legacy of a fraudulent war and a collapsed economy. The film portrays him as incompetent to be president, and shaped by the puppet masters Cheney and Rove to their own ends. If there is a saving grace, it may be that Bush will never fully realize how badly he did. How can he blame himself? He was only following God's will.
- Roger Ebert