Oliver Stone’s unusual and inescapably interesting “W.” feels like a rough draft of a film it might behoove him to remake in 10 or 15 years. The director’s third feature to hinge on a modern-era presidency, after “JFK” and “Nixon,” offers a clear and plausible take on the current chief executive’s psychological makeup and, considering Stone’s reputation and Bush’s vast unpopularity, a relatively even-handed, restrained treatment of recent politics. For a film that could have been either a scorching satire or an outright tragedy, “W.” is, if anything, overly conventional, especially stylistically. The picture possesses dramatic and entertainment value, but beyond serious filmgoers curious about how Stone deals with all this president’s men and women, it’s questionable how wide a public will pony up to immerse itself in a story that still lacks an ending.
Heavily researched but made very quickly – pic went before the cameras in May and is being rushed into release before the November election – “W.” has the benefit of filmmaking energy and good performances where they count, beginning with Josh Brolin’s arresting turn in the leading role. One can’t say Brolin is George W. Bush – the real one is still all too noticeably with us – but the actor offers a more than reasonable physical approximation and an interpretation that’s convincingly boisterous and determined. Aspects of the man unknown to the public are put forward that may or may not be true, but are sufficiently believable to make one go with them in a movie. Continue reading