I think I was as surprised as my girlfriend that I was interested in going to see W. in the theaters. I'm not tremendously political, but I certainly lean heavily (at least financially and foreign-policy wise) towards the "right". But even more surprising was that I liked the film, and that my expectations were completely wrong.A friend of mine asked me, "What kind of movie is it? Satire? Dark-comedy? Political propaganda?" She's the kind of person that likes to know just what to expect, and I can't blame her in this case. I was most intrigued by the film because of Josh Brolin's purported great performance (not to be underestimated) and the fact that I wanted to see for myself just how Oliver Stone paints our 43rd president. My answer to her question was that it has humor, but it is by no means a comedy or satire. The picture still defies to be put in a category, other than a creative biopic that is entertaining, informative, conspiracy-theoried (Stone, naturally doing what he does), and thought-provoking. It wasn't what I expected.

That reminds me of another question that was posted to me by a VERY liberal woman (I would say she drinks the kool-aid), the kind that believes in a vast right-wing conspiracy and Bush is evil, etc., etc. She was surprised that I went to see it (my right-leaning rep is well-known) and asked what I thought. And I said the most surprising thing is the most sympathetic, well-developed, and human character in the movie is George W. himself. She looked visibly deflated and said, "oh". I suspect anyone with a similar POV will be disappointed that Oliver Stone's film actually conveys a compassion and understanding for W., instead of making a cheap pot-shot mockumentary. This is by no means saying the film is pro-Bush, but that Stone is trying (and I believe succeeds) to tell a story about real people, and real people are shaped by real events, real emotions, and other real people.

Now, where Oliver Stone takes liberties with characters (one assumes) is with W.'s cabinet. In the film, W. is portrayed as a person who believes in good and evil, and as a metaphor for his own views, the good in his own cabinet is Colin Powell (Jeffrey Wright) and Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfus) the evil. Karl Rove (Toby Jones) comes off as both affable and slimy as the same time, but Thandie Newton's caricature impression of Condoleeza Rice is show-stoppingly distracting. That and Rice is made to be mostly a 'yes' person and doesn't appear to have much in the way of an opinion.

For me, it was most interesting to see the origins of W.'s christian faith -- assigned to a local election beating, where his opponent used those themes to beat him. Afterward, W. vows never to be "out-Christianed or out-Texaned again", even though he knows the themes are irrelevant and dishonest. Amazingly, I came out of the film with a better feeling about W. than when I walked in, and I think in this age of being besieged by cries of "worst president ever", I never say that coming.

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