Oliver Stone, You Owe Me $10.75 and Two Hours of my Life Back

20 October 2008

In “W”, Mr. Stone succeeded in making a movie that was as intellectually stimulating as a conversation with the title subject.  To be sure there was more nuance in this movie than my opening statement might indicate, but not by much.

The life story of our 43rd president is a fascinating one – former party boy, ultimate frat boy cliché, largely failed businessman turned governor of one of the largest states in the union and ultimately the worst president in history.  It is ripe for serious exploration from an even hand and skilled filmmaker.  Mr. Stone, while some may fairly question the evenness of your hand, you have certainly been a skilled auteur of your craft in the past.  This effort was sloppy from the opening credits through the lazy completion with the screen simply stating “The End.”  It was a good thing that you gave the audience that hint that the misery was over and we could finally leave the theatre because there were no cinematic indications that your movie had reached a conclusion.

I understand the difficulty with crafting a narrative without the aid of the principals to recreate dialogue; however you took excessive and unnecessary dramatic liberties. While many people have made suppositions about the challenged relationship between “Jr.” and his “Poppy,” you allowed this contrivance to consume your movie.  I can ignore the invention of these nicknames, but the notion that a Deputy Chief of Staff would have a seat in the Situation Room is laughable.  I am also unable to suspend disbelief with your timeline which suggests that Jr. and Karl Rove met almost a decade before their actual meeting.

The thing that mostly twisted my knickers was the cruelly dismissive manner in which Condelleza Rice was portrayed.  To be sure, I am not a fan of her politics, but to display this exceedingly accomplished woman as an empty headed sexual object is beyond the pale.  This is a woman who graduated college Phi Beta Kappa at age 19, earned her PhD at 26, was a professor at Stanford before becoming the Provost of the university.  An intellectual bantam weight she is not.  However, in your “factually based” account, she is a giggling pair of legs and little else.

Liberties with the truth aside, this was just a bad movie.  I heard the dialogue in my head before it was spoken on screen, the metaphors were thin, and the complex made simple.

You are a long way from Platoon, Mr. Stone.