In 2004 George W. was a much reviled figure in many circles. He lost the popular vote to Gore in 2000, in part, some believe, through the efforts of Key West-born Kathryn Harris who (as the then Florida Secretary of State) put the brakes on the now legendary recount.
On top of that, there is the fearful fiction of WMDs in Iraq, which propelled us into war with that country, when most now agree, in fact, that it was an unnecessary war.
For most, he is still the presidential name to avoid, if not ridicule after a decade.
"Truth" the feature debut from director James Vanderbilt, highlights the period of 2004 when anti-Bush vitriol was at its peak. "60 Minutes" producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) has found damning documents given to her by Bill Burkett (Stacy Keach) which state in no uncertain terms, that George W. never showed up for military training in the National Guard.
Dan Rather (Robert Redford) and Mary Mapes work as a team to confirm sources up against brain crushing stress, hostility and invasive threats.
Blanchett has fine dramatic iron and authentic energy as a journalist who risks her very health and equilibrium to get the documents in question validated.
Robert Redford does well here too, as the respected verteran who is very nearly beyond reproach. Most powerfully, Rather's own inimitable voice is almost perfectly reproduced as if by spirit magic.
Keach gives a solid if standard outing as the well meaning, but stressed out Lieutenant Colonel. During biting questions from Rather, Burkett reaches for his oxygen. While this is plausible in real life, it is thick with melodrama on film, especially with Burkett's wife exclaiming, "How dare you ask how Bill is. My husband is a sick man!"
The story is compelling enough without this bit of handwringing.
In addition to the cast, the film has a keen eye for visual detail. In one scene, Mapes has taken to bed. Blanchett is seen from above as if fallen to earth and left stranded. The colors of gray and blue, silver and black are emphasized on the flat boardroom tables and towering buildings. Sharp right angles dominate all, as if to point to impalement or eviceration.
Though a good portion of the film is taken up by Blanchett and Redford repetitively stressing the sacred trust and the responsiblity of journalism with a few segments playing along predictable rhythms (breaking stories, refusals and indignant newsmen barking about persecution and conspiracy) "Truth" is most provocative given the fact that the press was indeed about actual news and issues that mattered and was not concerned---as it is now---with noise, belligerent gossip and some outright offense that masquerades as political thought.
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