Wednesday, February 27, 2008


CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR (political drama)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Ned Beatty, Om Puri
Director: Mike Nichols
Time: 97 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 4)

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? Last year, there were no fewer than five movies about the so-called ‘war on terror’, namely, “The Kingdom”, “Lions For Lambs”, “Rendition”, “A Mighty Heart” and “In The Valley Of Elah”. Except for “The Kingdom”, which grossed US$47.5mil, none of the others made any impact at the US box-office. “Charlie Wilson’s War”, however, is still going strong at No 39 of the 2007 top-grossers, collecting more than US$66mil. OK, it is not about the war on terror per se, but it’s some sort of a ‘prequel’, perhaps? Adapted on the book by George Crile, it definitely has something that the others don’t have!

WHAT’S IT ABOUT? Congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) of Texas is a hard-drinker, womaniser and partygoer. In short, he is a typical US politician in the 80s. He becomes aware of the situation in Afghanistan after being named to the Defense Appropriations subcommittee in 1980. However, it is when he meets socialite Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts), that he goes on a tour of Pakistan, where he meets the President (Om Puri) and walks through the refugee camps. He returns to Washington with renewed determination to get weapons for the Afghan Mujahideen to enable them to bring down Soviet occupiers. With the aid of CIA operative Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Charlie starts a campaign that eventually leads to the U.S. diverting more than $500 million of aid to Afghanistan. Know what happens later, this ‘war’ may be the prequel to 9/11 and the war on terror!

HITS & MISSES: Unlike the aforementioned five movies, this one works because it deals with a charismatic, well-intentioned politician we can relate to. More importantly, director Mike Nichols allows his Oscar-winning stars (all three of them) to twinkle and even sparkle. It is during the sparkling exchanges between the leads that the movie takes off. Hanks provides Charlie with a kind of charm we haven’t seen from him in years, while Roberts brings a regal air to Joanne that suggests a touch of danger – like, when we watch her touching-up her eye make-up with the sharp end of a safety pin! And then there’s Hoffman who looks like he is trying to outshine his co-stars with his brand of ‘power-acting’ and vying for the Oscar nomination.

Yes, Nichols and scripter Aaron Sorkin see politics as a comic and even ridiculous undertaking and they infuse the fun and drama into it. The result is a movie that is lively and engaging from start to end.

THE LOWDOWN: At last, we have a winner. Charlie Wilson just knows how to have fun.


At 5:01 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOU CAN'T BEAT SORKIN! It's a damn shame Studio 60 got shelved.

I also reccomend reading the book before or after the movie. There are some things in there that are so absurd, you won't believe what you are reading!

Arivind Abraham

At 12:35 am, Blogger Lim Chang Moh said...

Hi Arivind,
Ya, I will try to get the book at the Monroe Library here in Bloomington. Thanks.

BTW, how is your movie project getting along? Email me.

At 12:55 am, Anonymous patrick said...

Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts are a classic combination... Charlie Wilson's War made me feel a little better about U.S. foreign intervention, it seemed to work out that time


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