Truth is a compelling, if occasionally one sided historical retelling, equipped with excellent performances and a thorough understanding of journalistic practices. The drama of the situation feels real, and the procedural elements of the film work well in the situations. While the performances are excellent, and the story raises some interesting points, the film struggles to find its narrative.
Just before the 2004 election of President George W. Bush, 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchette) gets a tip about the election: the President did not complete his military service. Pulling together her team of Mike Smith (Topher Grace), Roger Charles (Dennis Quaid), Lucy Scott (Elizabeth Moss), and veteran anchor Dan Rather (Robert Redford). When there story comes under fire, motivations are questioned, practices are changed, and journalism in of itself is changed.
Director and writer James Vanderbilt does a great job at capturing the journalism and tension of the era, and while some of the dramatic moments feel forced, specifically the backstories of some characters and the reactions to the story, the capturing of the era is excellent. While character to character relations are strong, internal character development feels staged in many instances. The film closes strong, and the message of the story, which revolves around questioning everything, bodes well.
The cast is also particularly strong, with Cate Blanchette being the standout as Mary Mapes, giving a captivating and raw performance that is worthy of award season praise. While it is definitely Blanchette’s film, Redford in particular adds a dramatic presence to the film. While Topher Grace, Dennis Quaid, and Elizabeth Moss are supporting players, they’re great in the film, and Grace in particular gives an excellent monologue at the end of the film. While Bruce greenwood is underused, Stacy Keach gives a great and subtle performance.
Truth is powerful cinema, and while it’s occasionally ineffective, there’s a lot that works, and the performances alone a worth seeing. Though it’s political views are unsubtle and some drama feels forced, it’s rare to see a journalism film that’s this well done, and a film that passionate about history. Grade: B