DIRECTOR: rob reiner (a few good men, the american president, shock and awe)
STARRING: woody harrelson, jennifer jason leigh, richard jenkins, and bill pullman
REVIEWER: lyall carter
Lyndon Johnson goes from being a powerful Senate majority leader to a powerless vice president before he becomes the president of the United States following the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
There's just something about Woody Harrelson that you cannot help but like. From his time on Cheers as the hilarious bar man Woody Boyd to more recent supporting character roles in Three Billboards and Solo: A Star Wars Story, Harrelson is both a gripping and funny bone tickling actor.
But its been a while since we have seen him in any sort of lead role in a film that has required so much of him. But his role as President Lyndon Johnson requires everything. And boy - does he deliver.
LBJ follows the presidency aspirations of Lyndon B. Johnson as he loses to the popular and ruthless Kennedy political machine, is side lined into the vice presidency, and then must take on the role after the horrific death of JFK.
The story, while filled with drama, does feel a little pedestrian at times with perhaps a little too much time spent in darkened rooms doing political deals. But LBJ is ultimately made gripping because of Harrelson's outstanding performance.
Its a tour de force. Harrelson completely disappears into the depths of some wonderful prosthetics and LBJ stands before you. Both longing to be loved by the American people and forceful, both cantankerous and empathetic; Harrelson nails LBJ to the floor. Its an absolutely spell bounding performance similar is power and poise to Gary Oldman's performance as Churchill in Darkest Hour.
The rest of the ensemble is terrific with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Richard Jenkins (can we get that man an Oscar already?) utter standouts.
At times the pace is a little pedestrian but all can be forgiven in light of Woody Harrelson's terrific performance.