W: an empty shell?

Last night we went to see W, Oliver Stone’s biopic about the life and disasters of George W Bush. The title comes from the fact that he is apparently known as ‘doubleya’ (or even ‘dubya’) by his friends and most of his family (though his Pa calls him ‘Junior’). I was disposed to like the film, but I’m afraid it’s a turkey despite a few good performances (notably by Josh Brolin as Dubya, Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush and Richard Dreyfuss as an authentically creepy Dick Cheney). I’m glad I saw it after Obama’s victory rather than before the election, because the main thought it provokes is wonderment that such a gang of warped, dysfunctional cretins could take over the government of a civilised country.

The obvious comparison is with Stone’s Nixon, which I think is a fine and absorbing film. One reason why W is so unsatisfactory might be that the current President’s character isn’t able to bear the weight, whereas Nixon, for all his many defects (or perhaps because of them) was a genuinely interesting and complex man. So in making W Stone was effectively probing an empty shell.

All of which makes me think that perhaps the upcoming Frost/Nixon film might be genuinely interesting.