OLIVER Stone directing a film about the early years of George W Bush’s presidency?
You would be forgiven for expecting a merciless hatchet job on someone who seems on the verge of being branded the most incompetent man ever to lead the world’s most powerful country.
While there is much in this film to back up that claim, Stone is remarkably sympathetic towards W., portraying him as the black sheep of a highly influential family whose ex-President father continually refers to him as a disappointment.
In the expert hands of Josh Brolin, Bush comes across as a well-meaning, earnest bumbler, so easily manipulated by more cunning operators around him such as Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss) and Karl Rove (Toby Jones).
Delving fascinatingly into GW’s formative years, we witness his battle with alcoholism and his womanising ways which change dramatically when he finds God and meets future wife Laura (Elizabeth Banks).
Having the gall to make and release this movie before its subject has even left office is itself something of an indication of how little respect the world has for Bush Jr.
But do not make the mistake of dismissing the picture as a gimmick: Stone has a serious message – as ever– and he is served well by a uniformly brilliant cast which deserves to be well represented among next year’s Oscar nominations.
There are many funny moments and more than a few chilling ones but the overwhelming impression one is left with is that the end of this year cannot come soon enough so we can finally see the back of the Man Who Should Never Have Been President.
STAR RATING: ***