WRITTEN BY: James Vanderbilt
DIRECTED BY: James Vanderbilt
STARRING: Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Elisabeth Moss
RATING: 4 stars
In the lead up to the 2004 presidential election, 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) researches a potential story that suggests President George W. Bush was absent from his military service in the Texas Air National Guard while others fought in Vietnam. She assembles a team including Lt Col Roger Charles (Dennis Quaid), newshound Mike Smith (Topher Grace) and journalism professor Lucy Scott (Elisabeth Moss) to track down the truth. Mapes eventually finds a document that she believes cements their theory as fact, and presents it to respected newsman Dan Rather (Robert Redford) to air the story on 60 Minutes. But afterwards, holes start to appear and soon everyone is questioning the story's validity.
Whether Truth is entirely accurate, or merely one version of events, the film still demonstrates the importance of reliable and fair reporting. There is no doubt the team took shortcuts and failed to tick all the boxes when assessing the reliability of the information they uncovered. Were they entirely ethical? No. Did it change the facts? No. Was the fallout from the scandal reasonable? That's certainly debatable. Depending on who you ask, there are varying opinions on how well Truth depicts what really happened. Rather gave his endorsement of the film, which was based on Mapes' book, but CBS had a different take on the story. Regardless, the film is engrossing and sure to encourage discussion about journalistic integrity and the relevance of journalism in the modern world.
Blanchett is as flawless as ever, running through a gamut of highs and lows in Mapes' career. Redford is more understated but equally compelling, and the pair are great to watch on screen together. The supporting cast is also excellent. It is the first time in the director's chair for Zodiac writer James Vanderbilt and he makes a solid effort. He cleverly shows the business side of news, including the weight on TV ratings and revenue, without making it boring for anyone uninterested in the media. The film lasts about two hours, but it is so gripping that the time does not feel long. Truth and its subject matter may be controversial, but its themes are as relevant today as ever.