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2004 Mini Reviews

Shattered Glass (2003)

Shattered Glass
Directed by Billy Ray
Starring Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsgaard, Chloe Sevigny
Running Time: 99 minutes

An honest film about journalistic integrity is about the last thing one would expect from Hollywood these days, especially considering the exploitative nature of todays media, but that is exactly what was delivered with Shattered Glass. What we are left with is a stunning portrayal of an often misunderstood profession.

Stephen Glass, played by Hayden Christensen, is a young, likeable and successful journalist, working for the New Republic Magazine, while also penning freelance articles for numerous other publications. The articles are odd, obscure, and they all tend to poke fun at sensational pop culture. On the surface, his works seems insightful and always entertaining. Eventually one of his stories is investigated by an online publication, and they find it to be a complete fabrication. The confrontation and backpedaling then begins, which makes for excellent human drama.

Peter Sarsgaard plays the New Republic Editor, Chuck Lane. He absolutely steals the film with his performance. What is so amazing about Sarsgaard in this role is that he plays a very anti-Hollywood type of role -- a low-key, quiet and pensive character. You don't see many accomplished actors tackle these sorts of roles, because they can too often go unnoticed. His performance also emphasizes the conflict with Christensen, and makes the film much stronger. He really shines when he does escape character and raises his voice. You can just feel his raw emotion and frustration. Sarsgaard is amazing, and gives by far the strongest performance of the year.

The flow of the story and the screenwriting are exceptionally well-done. The film reminded me of strong dialog-driven films like Glengarry Glen Ross. There isn't a whole lot of action to push the story along, and all the conflict is produced by the actors interacting with each other, usually Sarsgaard and Christensen. This film just flat out worked.

Score: 9/10