I just saw the movie, (please don’t talk about unusual timing) and I actually liked it a lot. The incredible ting about this movie, is that at no point of time did it become dishonest.
As far as I am concerned, there are two kinds of honesty that can be seen in a movie, both of which ultimately come down to the same thing. The first, is in case you’re watching a biopic, or something based on real life, is to quite simply, stick to the truth- if you’re going to talk about someone, talk everything about them- the good, bad ugly, every detail which is of any consequence. The other kind of honesty we can see in a movie cannot be described so easily.
I suppose I could borrow J.D. Salinger’s thoughts to try and explain. Holden Caulfield said that he always thought a good book would be one which, after perusing it, one feels like one can call up the author and have a nice chat with him or her. As far as I can see, the reason you would love to chat with this author would be that you would know, of all the people in the world, he will not give you bullshit, or as Holden would say, he wouldn’t be a “phony”. A good film is one after watching which, you would feel like you could pick up the phone and have a chat with the director, because even if he goes and makes the silliest romantic comedy ever made, he would call it a rom-com chick-flick and make no bones about it. That movie would serve the purpose that a rom-com chick-flick. That is an admirable lack of bullshit, and very few people have it.
Charlie Wilson’s War wins on both counts. And I’m not referring to the fact that Charlie was happily shown drinking and sleeping around (neither are things to be ashamed of), but to the fact that he had no qualms dealing with Zia-ul-Haq despite knowing he’s not the best thing that happened to Pakistan. In many ways, I suspect the film shows things exactly as they were- a cause of good will supported by a host of corrupt politicians who wanted their piece of one pie or the other, and one man happily exploiting that fact to try and see it through. The fact that the politics may have been dirty is admitted and understood. And what came out was uglier than what was already there is also part of the truth. At the same time, I have been reassured of my belief that while saving the world from one hell may have brought in another kind of hell unintentionally, it is still a praise-worthy effort as long as you keep trying to remove that hell as well.
P.S. – if you’re wondering, I still don’t like the U.S. I just like the thought of helping.