Cate Blanchett Anchors ‘Truth’

Cate Blanchett makes any movie worth seeing, and Truth is no exception. The directorial debut for screenwriter James Vanderbilt (Zodiac, White House Down), the film chronicles a memorable chapter in the history of television news. Whether or not it’s wholly truthful is a lingering question, since it’s based on one person’s point of view. In this case that person is veteran news producer Mary Mapes, who worked for CBS and won a Peabody Award for her groundbreaking coverage of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. Blanchett brings her to life as a fully-realized character—aggressive, single-minded, impetuous. I’ve worked with people like her. The movie has the ring of truth and that’s what matters most.

Robert Redford as Dan Rather

Photo by Lisa Tomasetti © 2015 RatPac Truth LLC., Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

One has to be willing to accept Robert Redford as Dan Rather, which I did, although he looks nothing like the famous anchorman. Redford adopts some of his mannerisms but makes little effort to replicate Rather’s Texas accent or even his hair color. He is presented as a princely character, ever calm, somehow removed from the commotion of newsgathering all around him.

Vanderbilt never allows us to be overwhelmed by the facts of the case at hand, as Mapes’ team (Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, and Elisabeth Moss) digs into the story of President George W. Bush’s National Guard service record. The perils of investigative reporting are well dramatized, and we see how CBS News president Andrew Heyward (Bruce Greenwood) keeps an eye on his people, all too aware of what’s at stake as they go out on a limb.

Truth invites comparisons to All the President’s Men and this fall’s upcoming release Spotlight. It manages to hold its own, as it captures the excitement of chasing down a juicy story and the way this one implodes. And it has the incomparable Blanchett as its anchor—pun intended.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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April 2024