Directed by Oliver Stone, W tells the story of the presidency, and the lead up to the presidency, of George W. Bush. Bush, or ‘W’ as his friends and wife call him, is played by Josh Brolin. The former president is portrayed as intelligent, likable, and very human, and the performance carries the film.
A large part of the film is focussed on the relationship between W and his father, George Bush Senior (James Cromwell). W is rebellious: he drinks, he smokes, he parties, and he seems incapable of holding down a job. As George Bush Sr. despairs over his eldest son, he is increasingly proud of his younger son’s achievements, and dares to hope that one day he will become president. W is a man constantly overshadowed by his father and his achievements, and is haunted by the family name he is expected to live up to.
The film contrasts events in 2002, showing W deciding what to do with Sadam Husain in the wake of 911, with flashbacks of his younger life. At the beginning of the film it seems impossible that the young man on screen could ever grow to be the President of America, but as the story progresses the character matures into the President he later becomes.
Brolin’s performance as W makes the film, you really feel sorry for his seemingly constantly uphill struggle. He is likeable and human. The film drags a little in the middle but is otherwise very tightly and effectively told.
Director: Oliver Stone
Stars: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks and Ioan Gruffudd