April 28, 2005
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsgaard, Chloë Sevigny, Rosario Dawson, Melanie Lynskey, Hank Azaria, Steve Zahn, Mark Blum, Simone-Elise Girard, Chad Donella, Jamie Elman, Luke Kirby, Cas Anvar, Linda E. Smith, Ted Kotcheff, ,
There’s not a lightsaber or green screen in sight and yet Hayden Christensen is gracing our screen. Taking a break from the burden of growing up to be cinema’s biggest villain, and tackling something a bit more in his league. Although he was blessed with a great role as Anakin Skywalker, he was not given great dialogue and was shunned by the movie going public for spouting his cheesy chatter. ‘Shattered Glass’ should be a step toward redeeming himself and bringing his career back down to earth is about to payoff, with a character that delves into his own personnel dark side of deception and manipulation.
Set in 1998 and based on a true story, ‘Shattered Glass’ tells the story of the youngest reporter of ‘The New Republic’, a publication that can boast it’s the in-flight magazine of Air Force One. Our young protagonist is Stephen Glass, a charismatic, confident and ambitious character who demonstrates a flare for writing extraordinary and exciting articles. Then a shadow is cast over his illustrious career when an Internet newspaper wants to do a follow-up piece on a Glass story called ‘Hack Heaven’. They find that the facts of the story don’t add up and companies and interviewees don’t exist. When ‘The New Republic’ holds it’s own internal investigations into what would seem like fabricated stories, Glass provides some proof against the accusations and we are left with a mystery, are the articles ‘cooked’? Is Stephen Glass cleverly backing one lie with more lies?
There’s nothing flash about Billy Ray’s first outing as a director but he’s been a writer a lot longer, and it shows. It’s a shame that we don’t see more mainstream Hollywood scripts as finely polished as this one. We are given the right information at exactly the right time, be it through its non-linear structure or astute acting performances; we are happily shifted from journalistic drama to ethical enigma.
Hayden Christensen also slides well between the styles, and plays it sweet in a sinister way perfectly, keeping us always guessing to whom Stephen Glass is; ambitious young man or terminal liar? His mannerisms, portraying the real Stephen Glass, who we see in the extras, are spot on. There are good shows from Hank Azaria as the first editor who lets the accused ‘cooked’ stories through the net and a Golden Globe nominated performance from Peter Sarsgaard as the second editor, Chuck Lane, who mans the investigations. The top starring cast shadow the supporting cast with ease, but there’s nothing special coming from them anyway.
Although it’s a strong script and is well acted, it’s not a substantial story. There’s enough to keep you watching but it lacks any excitement factor, nothing of any grandeur happens and the pace strolls along comfortably up to the very end.
As with the movie itself, the extras lack any excitement but still they provide some watchability.
There’s an intriguing and informative fifteen-minute segment titled ‘Lies: Interview with Stephen Glass’. That’s interviews with the real Stephen Glass and is taken from the American nationally broadcast show ’60 minutes’.
The commentary is from the director Billy Ray and the real Chuck Lane who comments on what it was like in the real situation that the movie is portraying. Although it’s solid chat through the entire feature, it’s very repetitive and generally backslapping the director for getting things right and ‘that’s exactly how it happened’ sort of praise. After watching the commentary you will feel as if you’ve watched the most accurately made film based on a true story – and maybe we have. Add the trailer and you’ve got a modest set of extras.