Friday, October 16, 2015

Movie with Abe: Truth


Truth
Directed by James Vanderbilt
Released October 16, 2015

It’s not uncommon for the reporting of a story to become the story itself. Especially in an age where the average citizen has access to an immense vault of information on the Internet, it is staggeringly easy for a news story to be dissected and taken apart. Even back in 2004 when services like Twitter did not yet exist, this still occurred. “Truth” tells the disconcerting tale of how one startling exposé about President George W. Bush by 60 Minutes came crashing down as what initially seemed like a rock-solid story was transformed into anything but a stable instance of journalism.

Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) is introduced as the producer of CBS News’ flagship series, a seasoned veteran of enterprising, hard-hitting pieces. Her business partner is anchor Dan Rather (Robert Redford), a renowned and popular public figure who is well-trusted by his viewers. Mary is the go-getter who goes after the most difficult investigations, and Dan supports her in the pursuit of true, sincere journalism. Mary assembles a crack team of experienced talent (Dennis Quaid, Elisabeth Moss, and Topher Grace) when she comes upon what may just be the biggest story she’s ever had: an allegation that Bush was absent for most of his initial training period in the National Guard, putting his entire military career in question.

Unsurprisingly, holes start appearing in the story even before it airs, and it only gets worse once the initial coverage begins and right-wing bloggers and others with an axe to grind with the show begin to dissect the many pieces of the claims that don’t add up. The film wisely chooses to show things as they are purported to have happened as written in the novel by Mary Mapes on which this adaptation is based. There is never a moment where things seem to be confirmed beyond a doubt or irrefutable, but it makes sense that Mary, Dan, and her team decided that it was smart for them to move forward. When everything comes crumbling down, it’s unfortunate but not shocking.

Blanchett and Redford are both formidable actors with long resumes and trophies on their mantles. Blanchett inhabits her role as usual, fully becoming the intrepid workaholic producer and showing her pain and anguish as the credibility she has built is irreversibly diminished. Redford uses his typical charisma to play Rather, who ends up being more of a background player than a leading protagonist. Quaid, Moss, and Grace are appropriately quirky contributors to a highly populated ensemble that also includes Bruce Greenwood, Stacy Keach, David Lyons, Dermot Mulroney, and John Benjamin Hickey. The story is an undoubtedly a compelling one, but this doesn’t feel like a groundbreaking, original news movie. Like the events in the film, there is so much intrigue at play, but the payoff isn’t exactly what was promised.

B

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