In the current political climate, not a lot of people are interested in a film all about politics. Many are looking for ways to escape political talk/tension when they go to the movies, but I for one hope that’s not true. Yes, I too want to escape political talk sometimes, but with Vice, no matter if you’re tired of politics or not it’s still a film that needs to be seen. And good news it’s not a boring government film, it’s actually very engaging and will for sure keep your attention.
Vice goes about telling Dick Cheney’s story in a way that’s entertaining (not a typical biographical fashion). There are multiple tones that are used here and we shift between them as the film progresses. There are moments of comedy and sarcasm, and then there are times where you feel horrified by the events happening. I really enjoyed the shifts in tone because I felt like it made the film an enjoyable roller coaster, and it didn’t shift in a jarring way. When the sarcasm hit, it didn’t feel inappropriate, it worked, and when the more serious moments hit, they were effective.
The effectiveness is partly due to the really skilled performances and also the script. The performances are so spot on. I swear when Sam Rockwell came on screen I was like is this George Bush or someone playing him? Rockwell had everything down, from his accent to the way he moves his mouth. Christian Bale was just incredible as Dick Cheney. Amy Adams gives a layered, interesting performance as Lynne Cheney. This is the best I’ve ever seen Steve Carrel, I just absolutely loved him as Donald Rumsfeld, he brings a very witty energetic presence to screen. Tyler Perry impressed me as well as Colin Powell, proving with this and Gone Girl that yes he can do more dramatic work, and should.
The pacing that the film has really invests you in what’s going on. We start with Dick and Lynne in the beginning, before any of the politics. I love the beginning scenes with them as it shows the dynamic between them and lets us see just how much of a force Lynne was. I didn’t know how much of an influence she was with him and part of the reason for that was because of sexist societal standards. Big kudos to Adams for portraying that energy and passion well. There’s really good chemistry between them as a couple in those early scenes, and to be honest I don’t know if they’re a couple, they’re more of a team. I say a team in the sense that she needs him to achieve success since she couldn’t in that time period because of sexism, and he is more than willing to do what she wants him to.
If this film is 100% accurate on they’re relationship, then we can all blame Lynne for the results of Dick’s vice presidency. Dick seemed to be content being a good ol’ boy and doing odd jobs here and there and it appears Lynne was that driving force behind him. Then, as he climbs the ladder in political experience, we see his relationship as an intern with Rumsfeld, and that is a real treat. The relationship between them is full of really good humor and it shows how politics can (unfortunately) be.
There is something really I found really clever about halfway through the film, I won’t say what they do, but it’s funny. Now the feel of the film slows a bit down after the middle, it doesn’t derail but it’s not quite as engaging as the beginning. But things do ramp right back up to 100 when the invasion of Iraq hits. The way Bale portrayed Dick as he pushes hard for the invasion was brilliant. The film also does a good job of showing the viewer the deception that the Bush administration used to invade and that the whole thing was based on misinformation. The tea cups piling on top of one another and eventually collapsing was a great visual to use in representing the cataclysmic events that occurred. The narration and which character is narrating is clever and something I did not expect. Cheney’s daughters, Mary in particular, are focused on for bits of the film, and I liked the ways they showed the effects that the public eye and politics had on them. Allison Pill was very good as Mary and Lily Rabe played Liz well. There’s a scene at the end that really shows the harsh and ugly reality of politics and saying anything to get elected, it centers around Liz’s run for election and her relationship with her sister Mary.
The ending had things I really loved and thought were very clever, food for thought if you will, and then there was one thing I didn’t care for as much. The thing I didn’t like was a surgery scene that went on too long as was too in depth and graphic. It takes you out of the film and was kind of jarring (not in a good way). The clever things included a scene where Dick looks square into the camera during an interview and delivers a chilling monologue, and the completely calm disposition he holds is perfect and shows more of Dick’s true self. The other is an end credits scene that is literal perfection, I’ve never felt this positive about an end credits scene before. Just know that it explores the current state of our country and the volatility of our politics, and it’s in a cheeky humorous way so it’s enjoyable.
The list of negatives isn’t long, the only things I didn’t think worked was the surgery scene, and the slight dip in pacing after the middle (thankfully it doesn’t last long) All in all, this film is a success, it tells the Cheney’s story in a very entertaining way with fantastic performances.