“W.”: Not the average Bush basher

Oliver Stone(Lionsgate)4 Stars”W.” is not the film you are expecting to see. This is not yet another jab made at George Bush by the entertainment industry. Instead, it is a film that chooses to sympathize with George Bush and show how he came to power and why he made such monumentous mistakes while running our country.In a state with an extreme negative bias toward George Bush (as does 76 percent of the country), it’s easy to expect to go to this film and cheer on with Oliver Stone as he unraveled the idiocy of good ol’ W. Instead, one finds themself with a better under?standing of what may have been going on with the president and actually feeling badly for George Bush.This is a remarkable sensation felt for someone whom many never would’ve conceived having sympathy for. This happens because of three people: Oliver Stone, Stanley Weiser and Josh Brolin. Weiser is an exceptional screenwriter. Using common facts about Bush, his administration and family and from tell-all books of ex-Bush staff members and reporters such as Bob Woodward, he is able to construe what the conversations must have been like between these historical figures, and really gets the audience to care about them. Weiser and Stone both understand that most of the country does not like Bush; their film strives not to supplant the President, but to explain a better understanding of what really happened. The film trys to show an unbiased view of Bush’s life from his teens up through around 2006, when things started to get really shaky with the Bush Administration.Getting the audience to understand Bush would be hard without the talent of a gifted lead actor such as Josh Brolin. Brolin does an excellent and convincing job at portraying Bush with delicacy. He keeps his character strong from the messy beginning till the messy end, always making you think that Bush re?ally isn’t that bad of a guy – which is a tougher job than one may think. He portrays Bush as a sort of tragic hero who never really could live up to the expectations of his family or the talents of his brother Jeb, who was the favored son, even when he finally surpassed him and became president only to screw things up even worse. In addition to Brolin, there were a number of other notable performances. Richard Dreyfus, who plays Dick Cheney, is mesmerizing. He plays Cheney very accurately as the real conspirator behind the terrible decisions of Bush and makes him genuinely creepy to watch. Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell and Thandie Newton as Condoleeza Rice also give great performances. Wright plays Powell as a kind, smart and intelligent man, who is truly caught between a rock and a hard place. Newton, however, shines as Rice. She first showed this talent in 2004 in a little movie called Crash and was clearly the best in the cast. Here, she has Rice’s exact voice down to a tee, even emulating the characteristic lisp despite the fact that she lacks a gapping space in her teeth. Her movements are identical to those of Rice, keeping the performance as awkward as Rice really seems to be. As the film progresses from Bush’s wild fratparty days, to his unsuccessful attempt at representative of Texas, to presidency and the messy Iraq war, never is the audience bored or uninterested. His relationship with his parents is fascinating (James Cromwell and Ellen Burstyn in the supporting performances of their career as Mr. and Mrs. H.W.) and his love for Laura (relatively new actress Elizabeth Banks) seem genuine.The circumstances for this film were a perfect storm: an interesting biography of one of the most influential politicians in history; a top-notch director that has previously mastered influential presidential films (“JFK,” “Nixon”), a well-versed, talented writer, a supreme cinematographer (Phedon Papamichael) and an all-star cast of award winning actors. What could go wrong?Nothing.