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STEPHEN'S MOVIE GUIDE

Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)   rating

Review: written 2008

The Cold War - now available in primary colours

Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)

So what do you know - it's possible to make a cheerful movie about the war...

Actually, the reason this movie feels so light and cheerful is that it is really about Charlie Wilson the man rather than the war. The movie tells the (based on true) story of the Texas Congressman who played a pivotal role in getting substantial funding to the Mujahedin in Afghanistan, eventually leading to the forced withdrawal of the Russians, thereby paving the way for the downfall of the Soviet Empire - as told by this movie at least. The interesting part is that Charlie Wilson was a womanizing party animal who was the last person many would have thought would tackle this issue.

The cast fit the bill perfectly - Tom Hanks surprises as the drinking Congressman, sharing a hot tub with strippers doing coke.. but retains the naivete that seems to have allowed him to say `why not' when faced with the question of increasing funds to Afghan freedom fighters. The woman asking the questions is a rich, headstrong Texan woman played by Julia Roberts, and the man in the CIA actually getting the job done and providing the technical explanations, is played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

It's shot well, in bright colours and plenty of lighting so we never have a dark moment, and acting is perfectly fine throughout. There is even just a touch of acknowledgement at the end that things were not so straightforward, and a warning that with the Russians gone, and without funding rebuilding infrastructure and schools, the `crazies' would inevitably take the leading role. As of course they did.

On the downside then, this is really a very superficial look at the issues, and a rather one-sided look at events in history. On the plus side, it's a fun and entertaining introduction to the man and the history, that at 1hr 38 min never outlasts its welcome.





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