It seems that I’m the only one appreciating Robert Redford’s late-career performing resurgence. He was Oscar-worthy in J.C. Chandor’s fine “All Is Lost” in 2013. He then played a slimy villain the following year in MCU’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. Redford will turn 80 in 2016, and he’s only been nominated for an acting Academy Award once (of course, he actually won one as director, of 1980’s “Ordinary People”), for 1973’s monster hit “The Sting”. And I’m calling foul, because he actually stole “Truth” from top-billed Cate Blanchett. Incidentally, she’s a two-time Academy Award recipient, as well as just about everyone’s “new Meryl Streep”. But I found Bobby riveting as Dan Rather in this film. He doesn’t look like him, and the screenplay definitely picks sides concerning the characterization of the television journalist. But Redford finds his humanity. It’s good stuff.
This was a huge story a little over a decade ago. CBS News ran a report on then United States President George W. Bush, in the midst of his 2004 re-election campaign. It spoke about findings that claimed Bush was given preferential treatment during his 1970’s stint in the Texas Air National Guard. W stood accused in the report of failing to meet minimal training requirements and often being absent from duty. Mary Mapes (a showy Ms. Blanchett), producer at the time of CBS’s 60 Minutes Wednesday, and national news anchor Dan Rather (an impressive Mr. Redford), became the driving forces of this aired allegation. But speculation rapidly focused on the story’s accuracy. And suddenly, instead of becoming the pin that would let the air out of a President’s re-election run, it transformed into the fireball that could destroy a network, as well the reputation of a respected, aging reporter.
Writer James Vanderbilt is now a first time feature director, and his lack of experience is showing. He can’t quite find the correct rhythm for this, his beats are always just a bit off, and his interesting screenplay is still just a tad self-righteous. He’s saved by the compelling story line though. And Blanchett is fun to watch, even when she’s overbearing, which she’s definitely guilty of falling into here. But it was Redford’s show, for me, the whole way. Quiet, exacting, just the right dollops of humor and gravitas–it’s the work of a man who’s exhibiting an extreme level of comfort in his craft. Stallone did that too, in the recently-released “Creed”. But Sylvester is being help up for a golden statue, while most everyone ignores one of out most legendary movie stars. See through his former glamour–RR is the real deal. He saves “Truth” with his honesty. Btw, Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, and Bruce Greenwood play key roles. Fine performers all…I barely remember them. See it for the Sundance Kid.
next review up: “The Look of Silence”