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Shattered Glass

April 2, 2012

Shattered Glass (2003)
Director: Billy Ray
Actors: Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsgaard, Chloë Sevigny

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Synopsis: Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen) is a promising journalist at esteemed US publication, The New Republic. His credentials are queried though when the facts he provided for a piece on computer hacking come into question.

Review: Cinematographically this film may be a bit ordinary, but everything else about it – from the actual story, to its characters and themes – is gripping and extraordinary. The relatively little I knew of the subject matter before watching the film definitely magnified my appreciation of its mechanics. I recall the story was vaguely about a fatally flawed young journalist at the famed The New Republic journal in the US, but I thought it would mainly be about his foolishness and naive idealism, rather than his outright criminality. This arresting inversion of expectation extended to what I perceived to be the even more interesting character study in the film – that of Chuck Lane, the hastily promoted young editor at The New Republic. Lane takes over from an extremely popular predecessor, proceeds to become an object of hostility for the existing staff, and appears at times to be out of his depth. However, as Glass’s gilded veneer begins to crack, so Lane’s dignity and sense of decency rise consequentially. A lot of the credit for the film’s compulsiveness can be placed directly at the hands of its excellent cast. Hank Azaria, Chloë Sevigny and Steve Zahn all excel themselves, but Hayden Christensen and Peter Sarsgaard in the two main roles turn in career-best performances as their respective characters’ descent/ascent is so cleverly played out. (April 2012)

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