Nailed it!

29 October, 2008

The Huffington Post has directed me to an interview with Richard Dreyfuss and five of the worst women in the world in which he beautifully sums up why Oliver Stone’s W. doesn’t quite work. Ignore the misleading article and go straight to the clip.

I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from W. and I got even less from it. Parts of it are quite good, and Brolin is as terrific as they say (How can the son of such a lousy actor be so good? Usually it’s the other way around.), but in the end I didn’t get anything out of it that I didn’t get from the poster’s tagline: “Anyone can grow up to be President.” Yes? And?

Part of the problem is that Bush isn’t interesting enough. You can’t make a 2 hour film based solely on the idea that this boorish trust-fund baby went from a drunken bum to the President of the US. Where’s the beef? Nixon had beef because few historical figures in the last century were as complex and Shakespearean as Tricky Dick (Can’t wait for Frost/Nixon by the way.), but Bushie just can’t carry his own movie. It’s we the people who had to deal with the effects of his incompetence. Beyond one brief protest montage, Stone never communicates that point.

I don’t mind that the film portrays Bush as a sympathetic character. In fact, that’s the one area in which the filmmaking succeeded for me. But feeling sorry for a character isn’t enough. Especially when the character is real AND has directly affected all of us. All they had to do was step outside of the White House for a bit. Was that too much to ask? That’s my spiel. Incidentally this same point was made by a good friend of mine, which is exactly what woke me up to the problem in the first place, so thank you to Charlie Rohlfs and Richard Dreyfuss for opening my eyes.

By the way, why the hell didn’t Stone fire Thandie Newton? Good actress but an appalling performance all around.

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