A Look Back: The Truth

Generally, media reporters in movies are portrayed in either two ways – either plucky, noble defenders of the underdog and crusaders for “The Truth” (today’s movie review) or heartless hounders of the good guys. Well, in “The Truth,” we get both stereotypes, though it’s the media hounding the media. But this is only a tiny part. Most scenes consist of people talking and taking notes, but there are ways to make that absorbing for a couple of hours, which is the truth (sorry) here. In it, Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford play the producer and anchor of CBS’s program “60 Minutes” respectively who, with a team that includes Elisabeth Moss, Topher Grace and Dennis Quaid, break a story about then President George W. Bush’s going AWOL during his military service. But though they initially triumph, it turns out that that’s just the start of their problems.

Unless they are going undercover at their former high school, most movie reporters tend to behave professionally as they accumulate information and work toward their goal of taking down those who behave in a less than honorable fashion. Here, Cate puts together a team to investigate gaps in the President’s military records, and she is as plucky as Julia Roberts in “Erin Brockovich” ever was, although she dresses much more tastefully. She experiences setbacks – even her father disses her on national television – but she perseveres and makes speeches about how people shouldn’t be bullied. At one point, she persuades a couple to come forward and help, promising that they won’t be harmed. And the couple says no, look what happened to Russell Crowe’s real-life character in “The Insider,” he wound up with bullets in his mailbox, divorced and teaching public school. No seriously, they agree to help Cate and her team. However, criticisms begin on the Web when the initial “60 Minutes” airs, some of which have to do with the document’s font, which appears more like it came from a computer than a manual typewriter. But that is making it sound rather dull, when it is very easy to get caught up in the characters’ quest.

“The Truth,” does, however, have a less than satisfying ending, but since it’s based on a true life story this is only fair.  It has excellent performances by all the leads and secondary characters, and it strikes me as fairly authentic, although there is always a slight suspension of disbelief when you have movie stars playing real people. It also has much insight into the profession portrayed. At one point, Topher asks Robert why he chose his, and he replies “Curiosity.” “Is that all?” Topher asks. “It’s everything,” he replies.

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