Vice Film Review - 'If You Have Power, People Will Try And Take It From You'

Nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Vice hits Ireland on a raft of acclaim, but is it earned?

Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in Vice

I came out of the cinema after watching Vice in a daze – a mix of being emotionally stunned, laughing and crying all at once. All I could say was – ‘What just happened?’ 

“Who wants (a film with) a complicated analysis of government?” the film asks the audience directly. Usually, not me. I like my films with singing and dancing and a happy ending but Vice manages to pull you in and take you with it from beginning to end. What just happened in there?

I left the film wanting to read more about that era in American politics, about Cheney, about the Iraq war and American foreign policy. And I don’t ever read books about American foreign policy! That’s what happened in there.

Over the two plus hours I don’t think my eyes and ears left the screen once. I was engrossed and compelled to keep on watching. You never knew what was coming next; one minute you are with Dick Cheney growing up in the 1960’s, next it’s 9/11, then it’s back to the start of FOX news and then it’s the Iraq war. And on and on it goes. All these interconnected times and stories and people. And it all works together. My head and my heart chased behind the film to keep up.

So yes, go and see this film.

Adam Mc Kay has written and directed a great script, Christian Bale as Dick Cheney and Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney are totally engaging and the film brought me directly into the world of the Cheneys and the people surrounding them.

In their early political days, Lynne Cheney says to Dick, “If you have power, people will try and take it from you.” Adams plays Lynne as the real backbone of the whole story, the one who held Dick together through it all and who calls the shots at some of the key crisis moments in the family dynasty.

When Liz Cheney (their eldest daughter) runs for the senate in 2014 in Wyoming (challenging the incumbent Republican senator Mike Enzi) and announces publicly that she refused to support same-sex marriage, the family backbone and the desire to maintain political power at all costs come to the fore. Mary Cheney, their second daughter, a lesbian who has been privately loved and accepted, cannot and will not get in the way of the family public power narrative. Not on Lynne’s watch the scene and the film seems to say.

I am not someone who seeks out films that are political with a capital P but Vice gives you no choice but to be drawn into the stories unfolding in front of your very eyes. It is sad, it is shocking (I jumped a few times) and it is also very, darkly funny. And stay until the end of the credits and until after the famous song from West Side Story ‘America’ plays out – the last scene is hilarious.

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