In another true story, this film is about a report CBS ran that questioned president George w Bush’s past, specifically if there were any strings were pulled to ensure he didn’t fight in the Vietnam War. Unlike The End Of The Tour, the last movie I watched, which followed a journalist getting under the skin of his subject, Truth is more focused on the what goes on behind the scenes of such major shows like 60 Minutes. We see the cogs behind the mechanism of television news reporting, from the small time employees doing research, to the producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett), and of course the anchor, Dan Rather, played with typical poise by Robert Redford.
The film begins with an excited Mary Mapes, producer of 60 Minutes. She has stumbled across a paper trail that could possibly allude to George W. Bush getting special treatment during the Vietnam war. As the countdown to the airing of the program begins, the excitement in the CBS office rises as they are convinced that they have a big story for 60 minutes – the first news program to turn over a profit we are told.
After the story airs however, multiple spanners are thrown into the works. Mary Mapes and anchor Dan Rather aren’t prepared for a fight, but that is exactly what happens as each piece of evidence is scrutinised, sources change heart for whatever reason, and Mapes’ is labelled as biased and using her politics to run the stories she wants to, torn apart by other media sources.
All publicity is bad publicity? No, not here.
One can’t help but wonder who exactly was behind this smear campaign against Mapes, pulling strings from the darkness. It certainly smelt like an attack much like those that inevitably appear during a presidential campaign.
It is no secret that Bush has many important connections, and considering this piece aired in 2004 – an election year – it isn’t a far stretch to assume he or his handlers were involved in some way. This is of course is only my opinion, the movie doesn’t try to preach the message either way. It just tells the story of how it all unfolded, no agenda to speak of at all, which it should be commended for.
Truth manages to keep us in suspense as we are never sure if the story will retain its credibility or not, whether Mary and Dan will succeed or not. I highly recommend going into this film blind regarding the story this is based on, as it will make for a much more enjoyable and interesting experience. I had no idea how it was going to end at any point.
Blanchett kills as the show’s main producer, she inhabits the character and shows the passion one would possess in such a position. She has a few monologues and they are piercing, I found it impossible to turn away. Redford is great as the 60 Minutes anchor and the supporting cast are great too. But in reality they were all overshadowed by Blanchett’s immense performance.
There are many themes running through this movie, some obvious and some not so obvious. The first and most obvious is how hard it can be to find dirt on a current president and then make that dirt stick. This movie can certainly be compared to the revelations that Edward Snowden uncovered, as his name has been smeared, not to mention he can’t live in his home country. It is unfortunate to know that over the last decade since this story took place, nothing has changed regarding journalists seeking the truth, people who are often doing their best to do the right thing only to be labeled by opposing media outlets.
Trust also plays a big factor, as after their story begins to attract negative attention, the atmosphere in the CBS office becomes frosty. Kate’s boss doesn’t fully trust her judgement, and as more bad publicity is attached to the piece, it looks as if some of her co-workers are beginning to lose the unwavering trust that they once had in her.
For a movie based around journalism and a story run by 60 minutes over ten years ago, Truth can actually be quite riveting due to the uncertain circumstances. The film cleverly explores the underbelly of journalism and the ugly truths that lie beneath; the lies and deception, the double-crosses and the way sources can vary in their conviction. It is hard to know what will happen next.
It is unfortunate that so little has changed since 2004: If you tread on the wrong toes you better be prepared to be unmercifully ripped to pieces via the media. People like Mary Mapes and Edward Snowden should be commended for their strength and courage. This film isn’t just about George W. Bush or Mary Mapes’ – her determination despite the biggest of obstacles is the embodiment of all whistle-blowers today, fighting for a better world.
A beer short of a six pack, this was a surprisingly meaty film and one that will make my top ten for sure.