TRUTH (USA/15A125mins)
Directed by James Vanderbilt. Starring Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Topher Grace, Elisabeth Moss, Bruce Greenwood, Stacy Keach, John Benjamin Hickey, Dermot Mulroney, Dennis Quaid.
THE PLOT: It’s 2004, and Mary Mapes (Blanchett), the acclaimed, award-winning producer of the top American news show “60 Minutes”, stumbles across evidence that suggests that US President George W. Bush – currently running for re-election – may have dodged combat during the Vietnam War by getting drafted into the National Guard.
With the show’s veteran presenter Dan Rather (Redford) quickly onboard, Mapes pulls together an investigative team to try and confirm the reports, finally receiving confirmation from former Texan National Guard lieutenant colonel Bill Burkett (Keach). But there are forces afoot to shoot them down…
THE VERDICT: Hot on the heels of the Oscar-winning ‘Spotligh’t comes another true-life drama of a newsroom daring to turn whistle-blower on an American institution. Based on Mary Mape’s 2005 memoir, this time, it’s not the Catholic Church and their fondness for children but the even more biblical Bush dynasty. That the shocking revelations don’t quite go David’s way this time will prove something of a rug-puller for those unfamiliar with the original 2004 scandal, and ‘Truth’ certainly leaves an odd after-taste.
Nonetheless, it’s all done in the best possible taste, with heavyweights Blanchett and Redford doing what heavyweights Blanchett and Redford do. The casting of the latter is almost cheeky, given his leading role in 1976’s Nixon-nixing ‘All The President’s Men’. That ‘Truth’ – which debuted in Toronto in September – hasn’t really garnered any awards heat reflects its ultimate lack of a kill. And director Vanderbilt’s killer instinct.
Review by Paul Byrne

Review by Paul Byrne
3.0ultimately toothless
  • filmbuff2011

    The search for the truth can often consist of three perspectives: one story, another story and the truth. James Vanderbilt’s actor-led drama Truth is an account of what led to the fall from grace of the much-respected 60 Minutes investigative journalism TV programme that previously featured in The Insider.

    With the 2004 Presidential election looming ahead and with President George W. Bush looking for re-election, 60 Minutes producer Mary (Cate Blanchett) puts together a team to do a piece on the President’s controversial military service. That team consists of Lietenant Colonel Charles (Dennis Quaid), hothead Mike (Topher Grace) and Lucy (Elisabeth Moss). Her onscreen mouthpiece is that of respected news anchor Dan Rather (Robert Redford). There are rumours flying around that in the 1960s, George W. Bush’s father had some strings pulled so that his son could dodge the Vietnam war draft and instead serve in the Air National Guard. Mary receives documentation that would suggest as much from informant Lieutenant Colonel Bill Burkett (Stacy Keach), but questions are soon raised as to the authenticity of the documents. Could they be forgeries? With so much at stake and a resulting firestorm brewing, how long can the 60 Minutes team hold onto their gold-standard reputations?

    Truth is a finely acted character piece that raises some intriguing questions about journalistic ethics in America, so often held up as the land of free speech. How far should an investigative TV journalist go to find the truth? And at what price? The result is a talky but often gripping look at the balance between free speech and the search for the truth amid a morass of mistruths and unreliable testimony. This is demonstrated in an interview between Rather and Burkett, where Mary passes notes suggesting that Rather push his witness harder to find different ways of getting him to admit to lying. Taking on the President is a slippery slope though.

    The casting of Redford would suggest hints towards All The Presidents Men. The acting is superb throughout, as you would expect from actors of this calibre. Blanchett is just brilliant as always, pushing her character to find the truth when the truth is hidden behind a curtain of treachery. There’s so much to admire in this film that you don’t have to know much about American politics to enjoy it. Director James Vanderbilt has a history of writing screenplays (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Zodiac) and producing films too, but this is an impressive debut. See it for the performances alone. ****