Vice has this rare quality of being a powerful left-wing film. Not on the left (there is more than enough, most of them without consequence) but "left". Vice is not a film with a message but militant, critical and self-critical, fit inside. An orderly work in multiple little pieces of moralist and remorseless memorialist maxims. The "characters" thus have nothing of the psychological portrait and all of the moral painting. To account for the contemporary world through the body of this man to whom Christian Bale lends his (and deforms), to mold himself into a monster. We will not know anything that moves Dick Cheney, this "nothing" being what comes closest to the truth, no doubt. As close as possible to this objective, the film, as biased and partisan as it is, stubbornly portrays as in the allegory of this crazy meeting-torture scene in the restaurant. Hardly will we learn what sometimes holds the vice-president: the love for his daughter Mary (Alison Pill), whose homosexuality is the only problematic thread in the career traced of Dick's political animal and his clique of neocons. Mary will be the sentimental limit set by the movie, the small perimeter of what a cold monster keeps from humanity. Without this limit, what remains? A gargoyle. Vice is a biopic to the extent that gargoyles also die.
Cheney, the real one, is still alive, like most protagonists. It's the bravery and the madness of Vice to want to address his adversary, and not only his own camp, in a dialectic packed to saturation. Adam McKay, the ace of pastiche and mixtures, of the Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) to The Big Short (2015), intertwines two questions that are fighting a merciless battle: the biographical question and the formal question. Political tragedy and pamphleteer comedy, history and farce. How do you become Dick Cheney? And how can one account for such a destiny?
Bastard. This man of the shadow weighed so decisively on the march of the world that he led him near the precipice. This character concentrates by itself, in its perfectly ordinary form of monstrosity, the inconsistent disorder of power (which has the character of a puppet idiot George W. Bush, camped by Sam Rockwell), and the hilarious cynicism of the technocrat (who has the irrepressible laughter of Steve Carell in Donald Rumsfeld).
Because what McKay shows, like a disaster stretched over five decades, flashback and flash-forward, in a game of back and forth between the fabulous destiny of a future dirty guy and the critical turn of the September 11, 2001 is that you have to go at least two to become a bastard. To form a real couple. Vice is a delicate fire that restores the polite horror of an association of criminals, souls sisters unmeasurable. Without a wife of the kind of Lynne Cheney (Amy Adams), mini-bourgeois greedy of grandeurs arrived, Dick Cheney would have remained in the circle redneck of the lose and cooked, a junk without consequence.
Dick Cheney is a resentment on legs. It is the only affect that shows through him. Adam McKay builds a "film-mix", picking up everywhere, borrowing as much from the collective depravity and the grotesque deception of Eric Von Stroheim (Raptors, Women's follies), than in the cartoony's mind of a Frank Tashlin. Slowly pirating the forms of zapping and the clip as much as the delusions of conspiracy, McKay proclaims by the infinite sense of detail and the exacerbation of the lines, the cuttings, the quiet dementia of the world. A right-wing, capitalist, greedy universe, without the slightest rhyme or reason except pure manipulation.
Opportunism. So the film, in its form, makes it a point of honor to always stand "in the middle" of the watch – an image, a plan, an action. It is projected, tense, in the next jump to the next plane. In constant momentum. Because the obsession of Vice is to be trapped by what constitutes his worst enemy and his dear subject simultaneously: the present. To evoke a fact, to restore a historical unfolding, he has constantly obsessively contextualize. This gives this domino effect, a panting and precipitous dodge movement, where only the jump – and the sidereal emptiness that lies before it, the madman – counts, where the incessant rebound organizes the work. The mad montage is the great idea and the perfect parade to avoid falling into the trap of the fool of the world described. Is it about making fear, for example? McKay summed it up in a shameless connection, the skip of a foot that flickered under a desk to that other foot trembling under a table the next moment, sprayed by the blast of a bomb.
So McKay only shows the instant effects of decisions, decrees, never work (which shines by its absence). The sequence of views, ambitions, conspiracies, so the ultimate bingo: the stranglehold on the pure present. Cheney's absolute takeover is due to his radical opportunism, in other words, his immediate sense of the present.
Vice use this principle of incessant jumps to be at one and the same time joined feet in his subject and elsewhere already, in evasion, and makes room for the inert weight of power. He looks at that belly that swells, the grimace of gargoyle petrified for the eternity of Hell. The story of a heart that is concerned to survive at all costs, without faith, without reason, without conviction. Attached to nothing, attached to emptiness. Vice is a Vanity.
Vice ofAdam McKay with Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell … 2:12.