Charlie Wilson’s WarFebruary 1, 2008
Actors: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour, Hoffman, Amy Adams, Ned Beatty
Director: Mike Nichols
Writer: Aaron Sorkin
Music: James Newton Howard
Charlie Wilson’s War, released on December 21, 2007, is one of the best politically themed movies to come around in a while. A chunk of history has been retold in this 97-minute film. Based on the true story of Democratic Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, who conspired with a CIA operative to launch an operation to help the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet aggression in Afghanistan, the film is also not glib or flippant. The movie, adapted from George Crile’s 2003 book Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History, was nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, including “Best Motion Picture”, but unfortunately never made it in any category.
The story begins with Wilson’s (played by Tom Hanks) leading efforts to provide US funds indirectly to the Afghan mujahideen after being urged by his staunchly anti-communist friend and romantic interest, Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts), a Houston socialite. Tom Hanks playing Wilson has lent the role his considerable charm and sly wit, while Julia Roberts as Joanne Herring is all blond and vivacious.
Wilson, a Congressman with a gregarious social life of women and partying, is first shown in the film soaking in a Las Vegas hot tub with a Playboy model and a sleazy television producer, among others, his hand wrapped around a glass of Scotch and his mind focused on the results of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The film reveals later that Wilson comes under a federal investigation for his alleged cocaine use. The probe was conducted by then Federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani as part of a larger investigation into congressional misconduct but it never resulted in any charges against Wilson.
It seems, the Academy Award winning director Mike Nichols and celebrated screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has grasped politics for all its seriousness. Nichols, who had directed Primary Colors, is a master at putting zing in the zingers. And being assisted by Sorkin, the writer of A Few Good Men and TV serial The West Wing, he has made Charlie Wilson’s War a serious but entertaining film. The film has received favorable reviews from critics. The Afghan Embassy is boycotting the movie due to an offensive joke against Tajik men.