TRUTH [London Film Festival]

PrintE-mail Written by Peter Turner

Before you get too excited, at no point in Truth does anyone shout, "You can't handle the truth". Instead, this is a film that reveals that audiences across America might very well be able to handle the truth, but the corporate entities responsible for objectively disseminating it will be damned if they dare to expose some truths. Especially if you go after a guy as well connected as George W. Bush.

Truth tells the true story of Mary Mapes (Blanchett), producer of CBS' 60 Minutes, as she researches the story of Bush's draft dodging days during the Vietnam War. Along with her crack team of colleagues, she procures documents that attest to Bush being given a position in the Texas National Guard to avoid the fighting and then going AWOL during the time he should have been training as a pilot. When Mary and respected anchor Dan Rather (Redford) break the news, the real hard work begins as Mary and her team must defend themselves from attackers in the media and even those in her own corporation.

With Bush up for re-election in 2004, the stakes are high for all involved as Mary risks her career to reveal the truth. Based on her own book Truth and Duty, Truth shows the scrutiny that journalists are under when they attempt to go after those in power, and how the truth can often get drowned out by money, misinformation and personal attacks.

But while Truth is a riveting drama about the procedure of investigative journalism, it is at its most emotive in a second half that brilliantly gets under the skin of Mapes. Thanks to James Vanderbilt's script and Blanchett's perfect performance, it is beautifully handled how such a strong woman can be brought so low. Haunted by her past, but determined to fight for her right to ask questions, her relationship with Rather becomes incredibly touching.

The endless phone calls, interviews, badgering and fact-checking as the deadline for the 60 Minutes revelation approaches gives way to an equally tense second half where the focus is more firmly on Mapes. Blanchett gets to shine here, balancing vulnerability with inner strength while Topher Grace as one of Mapes’ allies also gets one stand out scene, as he calls out Viacom for its ties to the Bush administration and its cowardly failure to stand by its employees. 

With hints of both All the President's Men and Good Night and Good Luck, Truth steps in the footsteps of some brilliant films where journalists are the righteous heroes. Whether scrutinising superscripts, interviewing sources under lights, or simply showing Mapes at home with her family, Truth mixes the politics, the personal and the professional into an emotive mixture.

While it’s clearly an ode to Mapes' hero Dan Rather, Blanchett is commanding as the perhaps flawed, but at the same time hugely courageous Mapes. It's her film, and understandably the likes of Grace and Quaid get slightly left behind as Truth sprints to its finish.

Pertinently, it never quite gets to the bottom of its truth. Ultimately, it's a tragic and veracious take on modern journalism, and the fatal flaws in having contemporary news disseminated by corrupt corporations.

TRUTH / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JAMES VANDERBILT / STARRING: CATE BLANCHETT, ROBERT REDFORD, TOPHER GRACE, DENNIS QUAID / RELEASE DATE: TBC

Expected Rating: 8 out of 10
Actual Rating: 

 


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