James Vanderbilt is a highly regarded screenwriter whose credits include Zodiac (2007) and a couple of Spider Man films but his directorial feature film debut turn’s out to be something really special. His skill as a screenwriter goes along way to explain why Truth (2015), a film that has an abundance of dialogue and no real action, is such an excitingly tense and interesting political drama.
Based on a book Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power by Mary Mapes who was principal producer for CBS News and its prime time TV programme 60 Minutes and was best known for breaking the story of Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal which won her the Peabody Award - both her book and the movie concentrate on what became known as the Killian documents controversy. Not wanting to give too much away I'll only give a basic description of the gripping account of the journalistic scandal that caused the downfall of one of American veteran broadcaster Dan Rather (Robert Redford). 60 Minutes was said to be the last bastion of serious investigative journalism on American television. In 2004 Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) and her team fiercely pursued a story that George W Bush received preferential treatment to avoid the Vietnam draft. The very powerful supporters of the Bush family, and there were plenty of them in corporate and political life of America, retaliated with accusations of political bias. There followed a battle between a group of brave and courageous investigative journalists and America’s right wing elitism.
The best way to describe this unmissable political docudrama is that it’s like reading a good book where you can't wait to turn the page to see what will happen next. I've already said how good Vanderbilt's script is but it’s the cast who are really at the top of their game. Not only are there fine performances from Redford and Blanchett but also from Toper Grace as Mike Smith and veteran actors Dennis Quaid who plays Colonel Roger Smith and Stacy Keach as Bill Burkett. The scandal continues to this day with CBS refusing to advertise the movie and right wing commentators putting doubt that Truth is not the truth. I would suggest you grab a chance to see this movie before its hidden away and make up your own mind - as I did.