That’s one scenario, anyway, but it’s not clear whether either Stone or Brolin’s Bush buys it. Although Brolin doesn’t sink to caricature, Stone undercuts him with half-hearted stabs of irony (the dialogue is studded with a glossary of the administration’s best-known dumb remarks) and he appears to be alluding to the acerbic satire of Dr. Strangelove, since at key jingoistic moments we hear “The Yellow Rose of Texas” on the soundtrack. Then, just when you think he’s opted for out-and-out farce, he has W. and Laura (Elizabeth Banks) visit maimed soldiers from Iraq in a hospital and the snickers turn to something else. Not anger, but pity and grief at the damned tragedy of it all.
But whose tragedy? There are villains and fools aplenty in W. — Dreyfuss’s Cheney and Jones’s Rove are plausible Best Supporting Actor performances. But a hero? Powell has a chance but blows it. Poppy has several and does the same. Maybe W. was the only one who really wanted the role, and that’s where all the trouble began.