James Vanderbilt’s directorial debut Truth is a docudrama set in the run up to to USA’s 2004 presidential elections; shortly after breaking the Abu Ghraib story, Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) has found evidence that George W Bush’s military records aren’t quite truthful. It intrigues the CBS higher ups enough to give her the go ahead to make a 60 Minutes show, and with anchor Dan Rather (Robert Redford) Mary begins to assemble her team. In a sequence that would probably feel more at home in hammy action flick, the rest of Mary’s team is introduced: Colonel Charles (Dennis Quaid), Mike Smith (Topher Grace) and Lucy Scott played by a woefully underutilised Elisabeth Moss.
After the expertly built tension and keen investigative zest of Zodiac’s script, also penned by Vanderbilt, Truth is disappointingly tame. There are brilliant scenes here and there but there are also scenes where it is made clear that the filmmakers were forgoing the truth, as it were, for melodrama. Aside from Blanchett, who shines even through the clunky dialogue, the rest of the cast, even Redford, seem somehow extraneous. There’s very little chemistry between most of them and, apart from Redford, they have very little to do.
The story itself is fairly well executed: it’s entertaining and, even if there are more than a few scenes that feel a little out of place, there’s never a dull moment. Though any truth to be found in the film is kept vague because of the filmmaker’s penchant for drama, and there is a rather preachy tone, Truth‘s underlying message and purpose is clear. This is a movie first and foremost about an incredible woman doing incredible things and even if it is shown in a roundabout way, it is shown.
Not the slick political drama it could have been, nor as bitingly critical of the state of modern (or at least USA) journalism as one would have hoped, Truth nevertheless has some interesting points to make.
Truth does not have a UK release date yet.
Watch the trailer for Truth here: