My wife and went to see Oliver Stone’s new film W. last night. I left feeling both angry and sad.
The film portrays our 43rd President in a way that can only make you feel sorry for him. He is a product of his upbringing and the environment around him. He is what he is. The fault for his being in a position he never should have been in. A position he was never really qualified to be in is not his fault, it’s our fault as voters and citizens because we put him there.
I personally voted against W. twice but I left the movie thinking that simply voting against him wasn’t good enough. I should have done more. I should have become more active in efforts to prevent the last eight years.
In addition, I bought into the fear campaign that got us into the Iraq War. Even as I read reasoned and intelligent things by people who were warning me that I was being duped I held on to the idea that certainly no one at the highest level of our government was irresponsible enough to manufacture such a grave and terrifying threat to our nation. They duped me just as they set out to do, just as they did many other citizens.
The movie itself is entertaining and Josh Brolin was apparently born to portray W. Richard Dreyfuss nails Dick Cheney as well. Even when he isn’t speaking his character roams the screen casting a shadow on the room he is in. I felt that James Cromwell did a very decent job of walking in the shoes of the Senior Bush as well. About the only portrayal I would take issue with is Thandie Newton’s Condi Rice. I think she spent too much time working on her physical mannerisms and, as a result, overplayed them. She is distracting at times on the screen.
Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell was a powerful role. I left the theater reminded that he should have made a different decision about running for President when he was at the height of his popularity a few years ago. The world would be a different place today.
I had seen several interviews by Oliver Stone prior to going to see the film and the comment he made that spoke to me afterwards more than any other was his illustrating the difference between empathy and sympathy. I left the movie feeling empathetic towards W. I felt I better connected with why he is who he is. But I wasn’t overly sympathetic for his actions. I was even less sympathetic for an electorate who is far too easily distracted from reality by the smoke and mirrors of political campaigns.