Review Date: November 07, 2003
Director: Billy Ray
Writer: Billy Ray
Producers: Craig Baumgarten, Marc Butan
Hayden Christensen as Stephen Glass
Peter Sarsgaard as Chuck Lane
Chloe Sevigny as Caitlin Avey
Based on a recent true story, this film presents us with the case of Stephen Glass, a writer for one of the more reputable magazines in America, who apparently wasn't as thorough with his fact-checking, as he should have been. Okay, let's call a spade a spade...the man was a balls-out liar and his pieces slipped by the upper-brass and were published over and over and over again. And oh yeah, did I mention that they were all printed as fact? The shattering of Mr. Glass' mask ensues...
A fascinating look at one of the greatest acts of journalistic fraud committed in the past few decades, made even more unbelievable by the setting in which it took place, the magazine better known as the source for most all VIPs in Washington, DC, including El Presidente himself ("The New Republic") What works best about this film is its ability to reel you into the lead protagonist's corner, in exactly the same way that the real-life person was able to woo his co-workers, editors, etc... By the time his stories start to show signs of cracking under the pressure of extreme scrutiny, we don't want to believe that it's happening either, because the man accused of the crimes, played brilliantly by Lord Vader himself, Hayden Christensen, has charmed and convinced us of his virtues as well (and he's got such a convincing face!) Major kudos go out to writer/director Billy Ray for creating a film that manages to put you directly into the shoes of its participants, while at the same time, allowing you to feel like a spectator to the downward spiral of an extremely troubled young man. The one thing that I regretted after the film was not having seen it on DVD, since I was still hungry for more knowledge about the actual events, whether or not Mr. Glass was fined or served any time for his duping of the public's trust (and what possessed him to do all of that in the first place?-the answer to that question is only hinted at here) All we get at the end of this film is a note about how he went on to graduate Law School (how the heck does that even happen...the man commits one of the greatest scams of all-time and a law school even accepts him?) and how he went on to write a "fictionalized" novel about the very same things that he committed in his own life.
That said, I was taken in by this entire story and even more so by the excellent portrayal of Glass by Christensen, who was able to convey a wide range of emotions, from confident and easy-going to respectful and loving, to the later confused and neurotic, and pathetic and somewhat creepy. His counterpart was just as good in Peter Sarsgaard, who as the editor of the mag, helped to ultimately uncover the extent of his malfeasance and really provided the audience with a person on whom to latch on, as his unpopularity caused him to go up against even more red tape than might generally be expected. I wouldn't be surprised if either of these gentlemen is nominated in award categories at the end of the year. I liked this film a lot because not only did it present an engrossing account of how even the most reputable firms can allow facets of their construction to slip through the cracks, but paced it all methodical enough for me to slowly, but quite surely, become ingrained into the fabric of its environment. It's almost like I was living in that office with all those folks and Glass was either apologizing or helping me with my own work. "Are you mad at me?" "Did I do something wrong?" Yes, Glass...you did something very wrong! This film, on the other hand, presents everything just right. If you're a journalism major or simply interested in the concept of deceit itself, see this film and wonder how it all could have happened so seemingly under the radar...
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian