Laurent Banguet –
It was almost by accident that director Adam McKay decided to do “Vice” — a biopic about Dick Cheney, the cunning neo-con politician who was George W Bush’s powerful vice-president, that is already earning major awards buzz.
McKay was sick with the flu, picked up a book about Cheney and could not put it down.
“I kept being astounded by how much this guy really changed the course of America,” McKay said at the recent premiere of his movie, which hits US theaters on Christmas Day.
“Vice” has already scooped up six Golden Globe nominations, leading the competition, and could see Christian Bale, who is unrecognisable under layers of make-up and an extra about 18 kilos, take home a second Oscar.
Film critics say the Welsh actor — who took home his first Oscar in 2011 for “The Fighter” — crushed it.
Bale “embraces Cheney with sincerity,” said Rolling Stone magazine, while Variety hails his portrayal of Cheney as being on “a virtuoso level of observation and exactitude.” “Christian Bale nails the Dick Cheney persona — dry, pointed, deceptively dull, invisibly passive-aggressive, a blank with a hint of a growl — and does it with a playful bravura that could hardly be more perfect,” said Variety.
Bale calls Cheney, who is widely seen as Bush’s eminence grise from 2001 to 2009, “a very strong character — he was incredibly consequential, and he understood brilliantly in a way, like perhaps nobody else, how to work the machinery of government.” Cheney — who also served as defence secretary from 1989 to 1993 under George H W Bush — faced tough scrutiny.
He was criticised not only for his neo-con policy views, but for his inaccurate claims that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and his defence of the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” — now widely seen as torture.
Cheney was also suspected of conflicts of interest: as Bush’s running mate in 2000, he was also CEO of Halliburton, the world’s second largest oil field services company. It made a fortune in 2003.
“Vice” looks at a variety of chapters of Cheney’s life, from his back and forth between White House duty and business dealings and his past as a rowdy young man in Wyoming who would eventually get kicked out of Yale.
He owes his health to wife Lynne, played by Amy Adams in a performance that has also earned critical praise. Sam Rockwell (George W Bush) and Steve Carell (Donald Rumsfeld) round out the cast. While critics are nearly united on Bale’s performance, opinions on the film as a whole are more divided. — AFP