"Shattered Glass" DVD Movie Review

9/07/2010 Posted by Admin

"Shattered Glass"

DVD Movie Review

Directed by Billy Ray, Written by Ray, 93 Minutes, Rated PG-13

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

In 2001, New Republic writer and editor Stephen Glass was exposed as an outright fabricator of the majority of his writings--not only did he make up many of his contributions to the magazine, but he doctored notes, created false identities to use as sources, and to the very moment he was fired from the publication, he staunchly denied any wrongdoings. "Shattered Glass" details the fall of the young writer, and in doing so it explores the nature of journalistic integrity and, more broadly, complete sociopathy.

Here, Glass is played by Hayden Christensen, best known as Anakin Skywalker from the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy. It's hard to say what was wrong with his performances in those films. He's about as flat as they come and he doesn't carry a significant amount of weight at all one would expect from someone playing someone poised to become Darth Vader. His performance was similarly problematic in the recent heist movie "Takers," though his general lack of screentime did him some favors. As Stephen Glass, however, Christensen seems entirely comfortable. At once charming and funny and then immediately vulnerable and sleazy, Christensen's performance is often reminiscent of Christian Bale's in "American Psycho," except, of course, without the naked charges down hallways with chainsaws.

He is detached, his eyes cold and ever-calculating--from the first piece of dialogue he has, you know Glass is constantly looking for his next means of exploitation. He looks at people and finds out what they want, and he gives it to them. It's difficult to say if his fictional news stories are a result of pure ambition or a desire to see how appreciated and beloved he can become to his peers--how close he can get to them.

Also like "American Psycho," the film rides a thin line between comedy and drama. Christensen performance is often quite funny, and the parallels writer and director Billy Ray manages to find between his general personality and the nature of his writing is rather fascinating. But ultimately the film chooses to focus less on the psychological aspects of Glass' story and more on the political. This is as much a story about Glass as it is about modern journalism as a whole.

Ray takes us through the in-and-outs of journalism quite deftly and manages to make it interesting as well as entertaining. The struggles young writers go through to get their work published, and conflicts between editors and their superiors and in turn between editors and their writers, the tough competition between publications, and even brief mentions of the steep drop in public interest in print publications are all touched upon in various ways, all quite well.

Perhaps most worth mentioning, though, is Peter Sarsgaard's astounding performance as New Republic writer and eventual editor Chuck Lane, one of the few employees at the magazine not to fall for Glass' false charm. Sarsgaard and Christensen play so well off of each other, and Sarsgaard's knack for buried emotion comes out in full force here. It's really quite the performance, and watching him and Christensen together is always thrilling.

Aside from the last season of "The Wire," which covered similar territory, "Shattered Glass" is, perhaps, the best exploration of American journalism this past decade has seen.

Grade: A

View the trailer for "Shattered Glass" below.  What are your thoughts of the movie?

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  1. Anonymous said...

    Easily one of my favorites from 2003. Billy Ray is, in my opinion, one of the best writers working in Hollywood today.