If the truth be told


Truth, Sony Pictures Classics’ relentless newsroom thriller that follows the scandal that led to the resignation of legendary CBS newsman Dan Rather (Robert Redford, spot-on) and the termination of his producer Mary Mapes (an exquisite Cate Blanchett), is sure to have you at the edge of your seat.

The film follows Mapes (the film is based upon her book Truth and Duty ) as she attempts to uncover a potential scandal involving ex-President George W. Bush’s questionable time in the Texas Air National Guard.

Mapes receives documents indicating Bush was AWOL for much of his time in the Guard and even received special treatment getting into the Guard to avoid service in Vietnam. She begins to piece together a story for “60 Minutes.” Higher-ups give her an air date less than a week out, so she frantically gathers a team of freelance journalists (portrayed by Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, and Elisabeth Moss) to help her and Rather make the deadline.

The carelessness of Mapes’ team members in their pursuit of the truth is apparent in instances such as Quaid’s character brushing off the possibility that the Guard simply lost a file critical to their case against Bush (“They’re the Army [sic], they’re good at shit.”).

Whether it was because Mapes only had a week to complete the story or something else altogether isn’t clear, but she makes a few fatal oversights, including a failure to authenticate her source’s documents.

The story airs, and in a matter of minutes CBS is swarmed by backlash from rival news stations and angry conservative bloggers claiming the documents presented were, in fact, created in Microsoft Word, and for a number of reasons couldn’t have come from the typewriters that would have been in use during Bush’s time with the Guard.

The rest of the film follows Mapes as she is dragged over the coals by a CBS-commissioned investigative panel — which, in one interrogation scene, is eerily reminiscent of the multitude of Mr. Smith’s in the climax to the Matrix trilogy — and is eventually fired.

The film undoubtedly benefits from excellent turns from two of the world’s finest actors. Without the genius of Blanchett and Redford,Truth would play much like a conventional superhero movie, complete with an excessive use of melodramatic slow-motion montages and a kitschy, unremitting soundtrack.

Neither of these blemishes come as much of a surprise, as director James Vanderbilt was previously known for his work as a screenwriter for the two most recent Spider-Man movies and the résumé of Brian Tyler — the composer responsible for the film’s score — primarily comprises Marvel releases, the atrocious Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles revival, and adrenaline-junkie dependent flicks such as Fast Five and The Expendables. While these sort of high-intensity screenplays and soundtracks have worth — exemplified by what might still be this year’s best film, Mad Max: Fury Road — one might question their placement in a newsroom drama.

That all being said, if you can get past the superhero clichés (Gil Schwartz, chief spokesman for CBS, however, apparently can’t: “The film tries to turn gross errors of journalism and judgment into acts of heroism and martyrdom.”),*Truth is a gripping and largely enjoyable ride, filled with some of the best acting you will see this year.

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