For a film about such a “controversial” figure, W. provided very few, shocks, outrage or scandalous material expected from an equally as “controversial” director. One would think that the portrayal of a president as a no good alcoholic who’s just working towards his fathers approval might spark something, but it just doesn’t quite connect.  This may be because Bush simply isn’t as interesting as the exploits of Kennedy and Nixon, two of Stone’s previous subjects.

As the movie begins alcohol is clearly a key theme and is overly present and emphasized in every flashback scene  for the first half of the movie. For an issue present in so much of the film, it is dealt with rather swiftly in two short scenes of him collapsing on his morning run and then attending alcoholics anonymous. After he gives up alcohol the movie becomes an ad for Dr Pepper as Bush is drinking that in a lot of scenes with the logo quite visible.

On make up and costume, when flashbacks occur it is often difficult to tell the difference between the time periods as outfits and styles are not distinguishable. Bush’s physical appearance doesn’t really change through these time periods and is only evident in the present day storyline when he has gray hair.

I get the feeling that Stone was aiming to make religion a key issue of this film (though whether he intended it as a good or a bad thing escapes me) as he painstakingly shows everyone in high power to have strong Christian beliefs. Not only the American leaders, but there is apparently a cut scene where Tony Blair expresses his intentions to convert to Catholicism. Personally I find religion in politics pointless, as expressed by the character of George Bush senior as he describes the issue of openly declaring your religion to the public as “inauthentic” in the film.

Overall the film failed to reach my expectations of Stone and it was hard to connect with the characters. However it was quite interesting and I never found my concentration wavering. It would have been nice if it had had a proper ending though.


March 4, 2009. Contemporary.

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