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This film explores Dick Cheney’s rise from his heavy partying and fighting days post-college to his tenure as vice president to President Bush. Actually, it is a film about Dick and Lynne Cheney – his wife seems to have played a significant role in his ascent to power. I had some misgivings on seeing the film – the last thing I wanted to watch was a story about Dick Cheney. I would have been happy to have him retired from my memory. The film overall is a bit of a mess. I found it rather tedious in places, and it doesn’t necessarily try to paint a complete picture of him (although it appears that the director did do his research). The director seems to have been interested in using a combination of satire, farce, and drama to take jabs at just about every aspect of political life; many of the jokes fall flat (what was that stuff during the credits about?), and the writing gets rather heavy-handed in some parts. In a few places, the style actually worked, and I laughed at some of the jokes. That was alternated by periods where I was rather bored. What made it absolutely worth my time were the performances. Christian Bale is a great actor who seems to disappear into his characters; this is probably his best role to date for this. His portrayal of Cheney is uncanny. I looked at him and thought I was looking at the real guy – he had the look, the walk, and the talk of Cheney. And Amy Adams is stellar as well as Lynne Cheney. Sam Rockwell, who plays Bush, is convincing. The only portrayal that was less convincing (but not bad at all) that of Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld. Both of their award nominations are well deserved, and Christian Bale deserves the accolades for his work here. Thumbs up for a film that is mediocre at best but features some of the best performances of the year.

About Gary Burkholder

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