After seeing Oliver Stone'sW., I found myself wishing I had a little more time to think it over before writing a review; then again, I'm sure there are some involved with the film who found themselves wishing they had a little more time to think over the Bush administration before making it. Distance grants perspective, or so we're told; what could a film about the life and presidency of George W. Bush released while he's still in office really have to say about his life and times? If distance grants perspective, though, you could also argue that proximity grants immediacy, and argue that Stone's W. is not meant as a somber, serious look back but rather a cautious, nervy attempt to peer into the recent past, a film with, in the words another Presidential candidate recently borrowed, "the fierce urgency of now."
But W. has plenty of urgency; you could argue that what it lacks is a point of view, or rather a point of view other than Freudian family psychodrama, with George W. Bush (Josh Brolin) fighting for the presidency and fighting in Iraq as a way to earn the respect and love of his distant, driven father George H. W. Bush (James Cromwell). But to many, examining the inner life of George W. Bush is like asking yourself about the source of the lumber when you're being hit in the head with a baseball bat. We get a lot of dialogue in W. about the difference between the external and the internal, between ideology and identity; Laura Bush (Elizabeth Banks) offers that "I don't think politics should define a human being ..." while George H.W. notes that "I've always believed in leaving personal feelings out of politics." But in W., it feels like Stone doesn't even want to let politics define politics, and leaving the politics out of the personal feelings he's exploring.