INITIAL RANTING: I should really say Mike Nichols‘ newest film shouldn’t I? But I figure people are going to see Forrest Gump’s aging face and decide whether or not to see the film based on the actors. I myself sometimes fall victim to the trappings of basing my decision to see a film based on the actors in it. Thankfully I got over my Tom Hanks’ phobia, focussing my attention on the fact that the brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman was in Mike Nichols’ newest film. However, the promise the trailer offered of war-related controversy was what drove me to the theatre last night.
I was somewhat apprehensive, though, about seeing something from Nichols’, who I admired for Regarding Henry and Primary Colors but held in uncertain regard for Angels in America. That being said, I haven’t seen all of Angels in America, or even most of it. The one bit I saw when channel surfing was enough to turn me off, although my film senses were much underdeveloped then.
THE PLOT? The film is set during the 80’s, beginning in 1980. Charles Wilson is introduced a Texan congressman of limited importance with a taste for sexy administrative assistants and liquor. However through an old flame, Joanne Herring, he hears of a troubling situation in Afghanistan. Meanwhile the erratic CIA operative Gust Avrakotos is trying to work on a strategy to push the Communist Russians out of Afghanistan. The dialogue driven film begins to roll (and fast) when Wilson doubles the CIA allowance to deal with Avrakotos’ issue from $5 million to $10 million. And so it was that from such humble beginnings Wilson was eventually awarded with the honour of Esteemed Colleague (not a spoiler, its at the start of the film).
Tom Hanks plays Charlie Wilson in a reasonable performance, though Hanks does convince the audience through the ownership of this likable character he is acted off the screen by his male co-star.
Julia Roberts is Joanne Herring, the conservative southern baptist philanthropist who has no scruples with sleeping with whoever enables her to further the greater good. Not judgement, just an interesting key to the character’s psyche. Roberts is a notch above average in this role. While I believe the woman can act, on odd occasion, the thing I liked most about her performance was the accent. It was funny!
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Gust Avrakotos, the agitated secret agent. Man, I just love watching this guy on screen! He is fantastic, and gives his much better known (and paid I would gather) co-actors a serious run around. The fact that this is a reasonably light hearted comedy doesn’t seem to faze this great actor, he embodies the character entirely.
Amy Adams, though not first billed, would be the next most central character. She plays Wilson’s chief admin assistant, and I had to give her a mention because my dad thought “she was lovely” and she did play “hot girl” in the Office.
WHY SHOULD YOU SEE IT? Besides Seymour Hoffman? Just kidding, there are other reasons. While the political and war controversy is in Hollywood doses (read: minimal) it still has some strong statements to say about the current political climate in Iraq, perhaps Nichols’, who tends to go for political material in his films, wanted to show the American public and the world what they did 20-30 years ago when war was occuring the middle east.
Also the internal journey of Hanks’ character, from a selfish and irresponsible congressman to an awakened and giving political figure is a compelling one. This journey is thanks to his would-be soul mate Joanne Herring who encourages him to go to Afghanistan and see the situation and the people for himself.
WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? With this one, it doesn’t really matter, however because of some of the film’s content it may be good to go with someone you’re pretty comfortable and mature with.
ANY BITS TO BE WORRIED ABOUT? Some naked female parts at the start. Swearing is moderate, and pretty well placed in this one.
THIS FILM GETS 3.5 GOLD STARS