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.
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.