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Charlie Wilson's War

A Stiff Drink. A Little Mascara. A Lot of Nerve. Who Said They Couldn't Bring Down the Soviet Empre? 

Year: 2007 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Charlie Wilson's War

Director: Mike Nichols

Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman

In the early 1980s, Congressman Charlie Wilson organised the covert US support for Afghani rebels in their fight against the Russian Soviets; helped along the way by the sixth richest woman in Texas, Joanne Herring (Roberts) and a CIA renegade, Gust Avrakotos (Hoffman).

This is a politically motivated film, yet when we first meet Charlie, he is sitting naked in a hot tub surrounded by strippers and cocaine, and is therefore not your average politician. From the outset we are presented with this scandal-prone playboy, who loves a drink. But armed with his political know-how, deep sense of patriotism and passion for the underdog, he is inspired to act when he spies from the hot tub a news report about the Russian’s invasion of Afghanistan. The film races along as we witness Charlie travel the world forming unlikely alliances with the Pakistanis, Israelis, Egyptians, arms dealers, law makers and a belly dancer. Amazingly, he manages to boost the funding of the Afghani rebels without the Americans or Russians even finding out.

Directed by Mike Nichols, the film boasts an A-list cast. They come in the form of a rather eccentric Julia Roberts, acting genius, Philip Seymour Hoffman and the legend that is Tom Hanks. While Roberts holds her own, albeit in a slightly smaller role, it is the sparkling exchanges between Hanks and Hoffman that make this movie worth seeing. Hanks, as ever, is likable and charming, but it is Hoffman who steals the show as a hot-tempered CIA agent. Frustrated at being shoved into the margins of agency work, he smashes his superior’s office window, in perhaps one of the funniest scenes of the film.

Nichols presents both a rueful drama and a wry comedy, all within a speedy 97 minutes. Laced with great lines and clever scenes, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin manages to balance the serious with the witty as he details the largest and most successful covert operation in history.

A true story that definitely needs to be seen to be believed.

Gemma Bradnack

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Screenings of this film:

2007/2008 Summer Term (35mm)
2007/2008 Summer Term (35mm)