Truth (2015)

(On Cable TV, July 2017) In many ways, Truth is a tough movie to watch. Whereas other movies will eulogize journalists as fearless truth seekers whose work helps change the world, this 2015 film uses the 2004 Killian documents controversy to deliver a story uniquely suited to 2017’s sadly post-truth era. It’s about journalists doing their best to report explosive documents on a presidential candidate … and then being unable to defend themselves against accusations of biased reporting. Based on journalist Mary Mapes’s memoir of the events, Truth is a stomach-churning docudrama about the nitty-gritty of reporting in a politically charged environment and how truth itself can be elusive despite everyone’s best efforts. Led by the always-excellent Cate Blanchett as Mapes and Robert Redford as a convincing Dan Rather, Truth takes us behind the scenes of TV investigative journalism in all of its quirks in marrying reporting with TV presentations. Alongside them, Topher Grace delivers one of his most animated performances, while Bruce Greenwood, Elizabeth Moss and Dennis Quaid have valuable input in smaller roles. It’s often absorbing viewing, but don’t expect an All the President’s Men triumphant finale here as much of the film’s second half is spent dealing with allegations of partisanship, and the ending offers little certitude in who was right. As 2017 unfolds alongside a misleading chorus of “fake news” allegations, Truth takes on a particularly bittersweet quality for anyone who’d like sanity and reason to come back to the mainstream discourse—it feels like an exposé of the primitive tactics that have since then been weaponized to a virulent degree. But then again, movies don’t owe anyone any comfort.

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