Directed by James Vanderbilt
Starring Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Topher Grace
A powerful performance does not always mean a movie is great. Such is the case with James Vanderbilt's real-life drama Truth, starring Cate Blanchett as Mary Mapes and Robert Redford as Dan Rather.
Set in 2004, Truth sets out to share the behind-the-scenes drama surrounding the controversial dealings of the "60 Minutes" investigation of then-President George W. Bush's military past. Mapes, as the show's producer, takes the fall once details begin to unravel. While the blame is shifted from side to side, the journalistic integrity of all involved is lambasted by questionable sources and shoddy research skills. While Mapes and her team, including Lt. Colonel Roger Charles (Dennis Quaid), Mike Smith (Topher Grace), and Lucy Scott (Elisabeth Moss), do everything they can to create and present a story worthy of attention, especially in regard to the then-ongoing election, jumping the gun on the details proves fatal. While the end is neither rewarding nor justifying, the results are understandable, especially in a society where online presence and social media are becoming the norm.
While Truth is a glimpse into the drive of present day media and the desire to pitch stories that are equally captivating and honest, Vanderbilt falls short of creating a masterpiece due to too many pieces and not enough back story. In fact, perhaps this story, while mildly intriguing, is more of a paper product than a cinematic adventure. The original story was, no doubt, the source of media fodder, putting CBS in the hot water and leaving noted newsman Rather to issue apologies and, later, retire. But, in presenting the story in this fashion, it fails to find its footing as an important piece of newsroom drama and, instead, sits there without much to do.
Blanchett is the one ingredient breathing life into the film. Her performance is built on a powerful subtlety we've come to adore. It's a similar character to her Academy Award-winning turn in Blue Jasmine, but still feels new enough to keep you watching. Redford is good, but it's hard to ignore seeing the legendary actor on the screen playing an equally-legendary pop culture character. He looks nothing like Rather. Blanchett and Rather, though, play off of each other well, providing the foothold for a decently enjoyable drama in any scene the two share.
The supporting cast is almost unnecessary and, perhaps, drive the film even further below brilliance. It's not the performances that are lacking, but the character development and dialogue. An all-too-important scene featuring Grace emotionally delivering a heartfelt speech as he's escorted out of CBS' offices feels very overdone and, afterwards, completely unneeded. I'm not even sure about what he was so passionately pleading.
With talent like Blanchett, Redford, Quaid, Grace, Moss, and more on board, it's a shame Truth isn't better than it is. While real life often offers the best stories, there's an equal amount of dull, "non-news" that doesn't quite stand the test of time.
Runtime: 125 minutes