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Friday, June 2, 2023

Nichols’ Latest Offers Big Stars, Multiple Layers

Funny, witty, quaint and blunt. These are words that come to mind when watching a Mike Nichols film.

Add political, scandalous and sexy – now we’re talking! It also doesn’t hurt to have a cast led by Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

“Charlie Wilson’s War” tells the tale of the congressman who managed to covertly finance a war against the Russians at the height of the Cold War that ended up having far-reaching implications.

Charlie Wilson’s character is full of flaws, and we love him for them. So do all four of his personal secretaries, who have a glass of scotch ready for him when he walks through the door in the morning after a tiring weekend in Vegas doing, well, what you’re supposed to do in Vegas. The Democratic congressman from Texas manages to make his way into the House, hire only female assistants in a pre-Anita Hill era, party on weekends and still stay under the morality crusade’s radar.

Nevertheless, he is a man of principle with a big heart and earns his peers’ respect through his actions.When he gets a glimpse of what the Russians are doing to bordering Afghan villages, he becomes committed to helping the Afghan people, and goes to great lengths to do so. He musters several billion dollars to finance his war, all under the table, requesting the aid of unlikely partners from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and manages to give the Afghan people the means to defeat the Russians. The rest is history. Or is it?

“Wilson’s war” can be interpreted in several different ways. There was of course the war he covertly financed. The ongoing conflict in the Middle East could be viewed, according to the movie’s final message, as his war. And then there is Wilson’s inner struggle, being the flawed character he is. This is only a taste of the many layers of wit and humor present in the film. Nichols is versed in this art, having directed movies like “Wit” and “Closer.”

Now, together with TV’s “The West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin as screenwriter, he has given us an expertly entertaining view of the world of U.S. politics and its many personalities and flaws. This is a must-see film that entertains the mind and tickles the funny bone.



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