Lynne Ramsay‘s fine adaptation of the very unloveable 2003 novel dispenses with the epistolary form of the original, and is instead structured around Eva’s life post-massacre, with flashes of the past forcing continually pushing to the surface. Kevin’s actions have defined her current situation; the film shows us how.
Artist/director Steve McQueen’s second feature (following 2008’s Hunger), follows the unravelling New York existence of sex addict Brandon (Michael Fassbender). Living alone, he (seemingly) happily picks up girls in bars, orders prostitutes like takeout and masturbates in the work loos after watching porn on his computer. It’s a tad compulsive, but his outward charm and ability to just about hold it together is keeping people fooled.
Then, his volatile, attention-seeking sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) turns up to stay in his apartment, and things slowly fall apart.
As dedications go, the one to (500) Days of Summer tells you immediately that we are definitely not in rom-com land anymore, Toto: “Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Especially you Jenny Beckman. Bitch.” Wow. And although the film is fun, occasionally true and makes you feel incredibly sorry for the main character, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the underlying bitterness makes the female lead (Summer, played by Zooey Deschanel) a mysterious caricature. Why does Tom bother falling for her at all? But first, the good stuff. Watch out for the spoilers…
It seems as though there are two films in Oliver Stone‘s W., fighting to separate themselves from each other. There is the story of George W. Bush (Josh Brolin), the president who took his country to war in 2003. Then there is Dubya, the son in awe of his father, George H. W. Bush (James Cromwell); who feels rivalry with his little brother Jeb (Jason Ritter); and who sees politics as the family business. The present of the film is seen through meetings surrounding the 2003 Iraq invasion, with Colin Powell (Jeffrey Wright), Condoleezza Rice (Thandie Newton), Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss) et al. Through flashbacks, a light is shone on Bush’s character and family.
In the production notes from this morning’s press screening, Stone goes to great lengths to avoid saying that this film is about Bush being a bad, bad president. An example: “We set out to show his reasoning for the Iraq war as a function of who he is, his personal history.” Stone goes on to say,
I can’t say I liked Oedipus when I walked out of ‘Oedipus’, I can’t say I liked Agamemnon, I can’t say I like many of the Greek heroes. Some of them are outright assholes, but you watch them, you follow their story. That’s drama.
Well, poor Oedipus was the victim of a fate foretold before his birth, and Agamemnon came from a supposedly cursed family – you’ve got to feel a little sorry for them. Ultimately, though, they were never real; Dubya very much is. Mr Stone, it’s a bit more than just “drama” when you suggest your incumbent president belongs in the same category as these possible “outright assholes.”