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Movie Review: Vice (2018)


Navid Faruque Anim


The title of the film itself suggests a relative approach associated with the respective politician. The film explores the epic story of Dick Cheney, one of the most disputed leaders who quietly rose through the ranks as one of the most powerful and influential politicians reshaping American and global politics on an astonishing scale. This political satire surely stands the test of critics with polarised responses for Adam McKay’s screenplay and direction, receiving both elated praise and blistering censure.

But it doesn’t always do justice judging a film based on technical aspects, sometimes the overall intriguing notion the film brings about should be brought to attention. Comparatively, this film expresses the true motive of modern art which is celebratory praise on concept rather than technical aptitude. In most cases, biopics on leaders fail to amuse modern day audiences with their dramatic approach. But this film gives a whole new layer to political films with a blend of dark humour and ironic comedy, associated with fourth wall breaks, switches into Shakespearean dialogues and more attempts which certainly catch the audience in an unsettling way.

The incredible main cast led by the equally phenomenal Christian Bale rises to the occasion of their individual challenges deservedly receiving universal acclaim. Christian Bale’s physical transformation and terrific and rather scarily reasonable performance is surely a sight to behold. The film follows Dick Cheney’s life in a comedic narrative style by one of the impacted lives of Cheney’s autocratic tenure. It begins from 1963 when an alcoholic dropout from Yale working as a linesman decides to change for good by his formidable wife Lynne(played by Amy Adams). Fast forward, he becomes a Washington insider under the influence of the abrasive Donald Rumsfeld. The film follows through key events of American History and how it impacted their lives. All the while Cheney juggles commitments to his family deciding to go on an exile from political life to save his gay daughter Mary from public scrutiny. Ultimately, Cheney’s treatment towards Mary shows the nihilist tone the film maintains throughout.

At this point, we come to the rising action as he agrees to be the running mate of the politically immature and naive W. Bush using whom he applies unitary executive theory to attain supreme power arranging the Bush administration in a revolting manner. From here, the director portrays thought-provoking revelations of all behind-the-scenes manipulations and scheming that shook the world post 9/11, including the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and their deployment in Iraq, the deposition of Saddam Hussein, and the horror in how their response indirectly gave rise to modern day ISIS. The unique approach the director takes helps the audience to engage and relate with the shocking events at the advent of the 21st century.

Amy Adams surely lives up to her reputation with the authoritarian, dark aura she displays as Lynne Cheney. Steve Carrell’s portrayal of the savvy Donald Rumsfeld explains why he’s best at this game. A distinctive role in this film is that of the inexperienced and boisterous W. Bush running to impress his father all the while oblivious to the shots called in his office. Sam Rockwell deservedly gets the Oscar nomination for this role.

Ultimately, Adam McKay delivers a thought provoking film which is dark, funny at times but ultimately hits home with tragic truth. As a redefining take on political films, Vice triumphs the 91st Academy Awards despite polarised responses with eight nominations and a win.

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