the fresh films reviews

S I N C E   1 9 9 7


W. (2008)

Oliver Stone
Revolutionary Road
119 minutes
Bobby Cohen
John Hart
Sam Mendes
Scott Rudin
Screenwriter (based on the novel by Richard Yates):
Justin Haythe

Cast includes:

George W. Bush Josh Brolin
Laura Bush Elizabeth Banks
George H. W. Bush James Cromwell
Barbara Bush Ellen Burstyn
Dick Cheney Richard Dreyfuss
Colin Powell Jeffrey Wright
Donald Rumsfeld Scott Glenn
Condoleezza Rice Thandie Newton
Karl Rove Toby Jones
George Tenet Bruce McGill
Tony Blair Ioan Gruffudd
Susie Evans Jennifer Sipes
Donald Evans Noah Wyle
Ari Fleischer Rob Corddry
Earle Hudd Stacy Keach
Speech writer Colin Hanks



The latest of Oliver Stone's increasingly simplified accounts of important political people and events, entitled W., is aiming to sum up George W. Bush's presidency and draw conclusions mainly as to what went wrong, but to some degree also why. The initial and most obvious objection to this film, is that it was made too soon. The reasons are chiefly two: Firstly, the events portrayed in here are fresh in most people's minds and thus has little informative value (at least when the script isn't more scrutinizing than this). And secondly, when viewed empirically, the historical verdict on Bush junior will probably change quite a bit over the next couple of decades, something which will make the view presented in W. rather insignificant. Few great historical accounts were written contemporary.

With these objections covered, W. still is an engaging and interesting film. Stone has much better balance and is less biased in his work here than he was with, say World Trade Centre a couple of years ago. W. film lacks width in portraying Bush's political career and it presents the governmental state of affairs in a simplified, almost patronizing manner, but Stone arguably touches rather crucial truths in the process. Much of what is presented here concerning the war in Iraq are well-known facts, but occasionally, W. digs a little deeper and asks probing questions.

The acting is diverse, both in quality and nature. Some of these figures are portrayed in a parodic and impersonating manner which might garner amusement, but hardly emotion or empathy. I attribute this to the freshness of the material and the fact that the performers have little else than the appearance and gestures of their models to work from. This particularly goes for Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice and Scott Glenn as Donald Rumsfeld. Josh Brolin in the title role also has some trouble distancing himself from mimicry, but at least his is a thorough and impressive impersonation which comes close to George W. Bush's mannerisms in many ways. His work makes for a fine outer portrait of George Walker Bush, but apart from some simple Freudianism, we don't really get to know what went on inside the man's head. And in all likelihood, we won't for quite a while.


Copyright 28.2.2009 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang