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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Movie Review - Truth

Truth (2015)
Starring Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Topher Grace, Dennis Quaid, Elisabeth Moss, Bruce Greenwood, Stacy Keach, John Benjamin Hickey, and Dermot Mulroney
Directed by James Vanderbilt

Despite a solid performance from Cate Blanchett (who, lets be honest, rarely disappoints), Truth feels as if it's not quite doing what its title implies.  Based on a true story, Blanchett is Mary Mapes, a producer for the venerable CBS news series 60 Minutes.  With the 2004 presidential election on the horizon, Mapes and segment host Dan Rather (Robert Redford) present a story that claims that then-current President George W. Bush received preferential treatment from Air National Guard officials in the 1970s.  Nearly immediately after the airing of the segment, a variety of sources begin to question the thirty-plus year-old documents that were the building blocks and particularly damning evidence of Mapes and Rather's report.  As Mapes attempts to quell the criticism, she finds herself at odds with her CBS bosses who keep questioning her journalistic ethics.

Taking politics out of the equation, the ultimate problem with Truth stems from the fact that it is based on Mapes's memoir and it makes out her CBS bosses and the litigation team investigating her journalistic ethics to be manically devilish in their attempts to take her down.  You can almost see Dermot Mulroney's lawyer character twirling his comedically villainous mustache as he tries to silence Mapes, and a lengthy and vindictive diatribe against the CBS honchos spoken by Topher Grace's ambitious reporter (and Mapes colleage) proves laughably farcical rather than substantive.  While there may be some truth behind the preferential treatment Bush received (and there may very well not be), the lack of well-roundedness in the side players of Truth and the need to make Mapes seem "right" hinders the film greatly.

As mentioned, Blanchett is good as the strong-willed Mapes who faces a possible career-ending crisis with the actress allowing us to see the pain Mapes internally confronts, but the film steers her wrong at the end and the self-aggrandizing, boastful attitude of the film does Blanchett no favors.  The film is blatantly telling us how to feel about her character rather then letting the audience naturally come to that conclusion.  The rest of the typically solid cast isn't given much to do at all with Redford in particular inhabiting a role that feels underwritten and shockingly sidelined for much of the film.  Then again, this is Mary Mapes's story and despite its attempts at trying to balance both sides, the film, although adequately produced and lensed, just doesn't land in the way it hopes.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

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