MOVIE REVIEW: Truth

Director: James Vanderbilt
Writers: James Vanderbilt (screenplay), Mary Mapes (book)
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid

Dramatization of the story and after effects of when 60 Minutes, the American current affairs programme, ran a story about how George W. Bush avoided service in the Vietnam conflict.

Guys I’m writing this in Dublin, Ireland, where I’ve lived for most of my life.  So if I seem like I don’t care about if one of America’s Ex-Presidents did national service or if his privileged family managed to keep him safe during that war, it’s probably because I don’t care.  I don’t care about Bush, why would I, but I will NEVER disrespect any veteran or current soldier who would go to war so I don’t have to.  The story that is being covered here is about how there was evidence that W. Bush managed to get around his service to his country in a time when other men his age had no choice but to go to war.

Cate Blanchett plays Mary Mapes, the producer of the show 60 Minutes, which broke hard-hitting stories that were being covered up.  She is lead down a path by a series of people who claim that George W. Bush avoided combat by people covering for him.  After the story airs there are a number of people, for political and personal reasons, use holes in the story to target CBS and 60 Minutes.  Robert Redford stars as Dan Rather, the American TV journalist widely respected, and plays him as a man filled with integrity and who loves Mapes as a daughter and a colleague.  Together they break the story and ride the waves of destruction that the story brings.

There is a feeling of a film that I watched earlier this year, Spotlight, about this film.  I’m glad that there was a break between seeing the two films or this film would probably gotten a lower mark.  When you stand the movies back to back there is a huge difference, watch them with some distance between the two and you see the differences for sure, but you also see that while the dramatic nature of Spotlight is superior, Truth offers just as much gripping entertainment.

The supporting cast here is Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Bruce Greenwood, Stacy Keach, and Elisabeth Moss.  James Vanderbilt writes and Directs from the book by Mapes herself.  While the film goes to great lengths to show the hardships of Mapes through her life and the amazing work that she done before this story you still feel that the character is somewhat untrustworthy.  In one moment someone is questioning a choice that Mapes makes and Cate looks shifty as she gives the reply.  It’s then just left there, nothing is said about it again, no conflict.  The film suffers from a little bit of amnesia when it comes to a few of the plot points you think are going to be important in the start of the film.  Like how the Bin Laden family had close ties with the Bush family before 9/11, this is mentioned and you think that it’s going to be a punch straight to the jaw, but we never hear about it again.  A lot of the film plays on how the parent company of the TV Network was being politically motivated to prove that this story was more lies than truth.

The witch hunt that happened after the story aired should be looked at closely, with the cowards of managers at CBS and their parent company hanging people out to dry for doing the right thing.  Journalists are meant to seek out the truth, they are meant to rip the band aid off quickly because that is not the easy thing to do, but the right thing to do.  For any prospective journalist this is good viewing of the pitfalls of going after a story and not being sure of your source.  It’s nice to see Redford playing Rather without any special make up or changes.  He’s a strong enough actor to capture the integrity and presence of the Anchorman.  A great cast with a slightly weak script that would make for better home viewing than going to the cinema to see.  Still worth a watch though.

 

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