Truth

A behind-the-scenes look at news anchor Dan Rather during his final days at C.B.S. News when he broadcast a damaging report about how President Bush relied on privilege and family connections to avoid fighting in the Vietnam War.

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  • ★★★½ review by Travis Lytle on Letterboxd

    Reliving a real-life scandal that brought a venerable news institution to its knees, "Truth" seems almost quaint in today's political climate. Regardless, however, of the state of current media-presidential relations, James Vanderbilt's drama is a solid and potent film.

    Taking place in and around the election of 2004, "Truth" circles the CBS news story purporting to have documents detailing how President Bush got out of fighting in the Vietnam conflict. Spearheaded by Dan Rather and a news production team, the story, questionable from the outset, leads to the disgracing of the entire network as potential politics collide with the potential truth.

    The production is crisp and cool, communicating its study of journalistic ethics and character with a beltway-driven grace tempered by bold, dramatic strokes. The cast, led by Cate Blanchett, is outstanding. She and Robert Redford, as Dan Rather, create searing portraits, easily demonstrating the tensions of the narrative and the damage those tensions cause.

    A robust film that boasts a sturdy story and outstanding cast, "Truth" is quietly successful. A study of character, motive, politics, and, above all, truth, the drama is fully engaging and, at times, riveting.

  • ★★★★ review by Dave on Letterboxd

    As I was watching (and enjoying) TRUTH, I was thinking, "Why wasn't this film well-received? Reviews seem mixed. What am I missing here?"

    Then the final act unfolded.

    And now I get it.

    I won't go into detail about it but I can see why viewers were turned off by the surprising direction this movie takes. It was certainly not expected. In a way, I gotta give it props for picking sides.

    TRUTH is, at first, a film about investigative journalism. Like ZODIAC (which was written by this film's writer/director James Vanderbilt), ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, and more recently, SPOTLIGHT, we are given a glimpse of how the reporters arrive at the story and how they present their facts. It's a tireless profession, often frustrating, and TRUTH underlines those points really well.

    But TRUTH then becomes about politics, and doesn't shy away from how it feels. That's not what journalism is about, so I can understand the viewer's disdain of mixing hard facts with left/right handwringing. Even the main character states in the film, "We're all screaming about politics here and forgetting about the story."

    For me, despite of (and because of) its tonal shift, I thought TRUTH was damned compelling. It's a ballsy move to go there, and it kind of worked beautifully. The big cast is terrific all around (who knew Dennis Quaid would become such a reliable character actor?), but this is Cate Blanchett's film to own. She's (unsurprisingly) fantastic here.

  • ★★★½ review by WillML on Letterboxd

    If you're into films about journalism, newsrooms, news scandals and such -- a sub-genre that's home to many great films -- then "Truth" should do just fine for you. While not great like Michael Mann's "The Insider" for example, "Truth" still tells its story well, yet in a highly straightforward fashion.

    Robert Redford turns in a wonderfully calm performance, yet the star is of course the always committed Cate Blanchett, who gives as good of a performance as we've come to expect from her.

    The film never really surprised me as far as story, visual language, or in any emotional way, but managed to (mostly) efficiently inform me about the inner workings of this Rather (pun/capitalization intended) major incident in television news.

    Maybe not worth rushing to the theater to see, but still a solid film if you're a fan of the genre or any of the cast.

  • ★★★½ review by Michael Vazquez on Letterboxd

    Ever since I saw her portray Queen Elizabeth in Elizabeth (1998), I saw something in Cate Blanchett and thought to myself, "Man, she's going to be special for years to come". 18 years later, boy has she proved me right. She's been tearing it lately and consistently year after year and making 3 films in 15', 2 of them featuring her giving unsurprisingly, beautiful performances. She's one of the greatest actresses of all-time to me and favorites. Without exaggeration, every single time, she never fails to amaze me.

    She proves it once again here and arguably in my mind, better here than in Carol and she was GREAT in that. That's how good she is. It's sometimes hard to pick which role you like her better with the exception of Blue Jasmine (still her best role). This is a solid movie by the way, a good cast and a very interesting story.

  • ★★★½ review by Ken Rudolph on Letterboxd

    This film is the polar opposite of Spotlight, about the failure of big media under political pressure, rather than the triumph of media over ecclesiastical pressure. In 2004, with George W. Bush's re-election in the balance, CBS news (actually 60 Minutes, with Dan Rather reporting) ran a story about documents showing that Bush avoided service in Viet Nam by using and abusing influence to join the National Guard as a pilot trainee where he ducked even that service. The producer of that well researched segment was Mary Mapes (played with vigor and emotional resonance here by the wonderful Cate Blanchett). When the forces of political disinformation ganged up to declare the story false, the politically vulnerable corporate entity of CBS disavowed its employees and heads rolled from Rather (played here by a too-old, but distinguished looking Robert Redford) down to the lowest researcher (one of which, played by Topher Grace, was given some thankless dialog hitting the nail on the head about what happened.)

    The based-on-fact story is told from Mapes' point of view, adapted from the book she wrote about the incident. If the script comes off as possibly self-serving, nevertheless the stink of the CBS corporate back-down reverberates today. There is some good acting here; and an important subtext about the corrosive combination of big media and politics. I recall this incident...and this film discloses exactly what I suspected at the time. But for all its good intentions, the film bogs down in the minutia of details, and a tendency to over-dramatize its message. Still, the film worked for me.

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