Tough lessons

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 March, 2004, 12:00am

Shattered Glass is likely to become one of the classic films on journalistic ethics. Based on a 1998 article in Vanity Fair on Stephen Glass, a staff writer for The New Republic and a contributor to other prominent publications such as Rolling Stone, Harper's and George the film charts the meteoric rise and fall of a talented young journalist who succumbs to a basic human flaw - an instinctive taste for fiction.

Playing the flawed character is Hayden Christensen, whose performance in Shattered Glass establishes him as a respectable actor after his notoriously superficial role as Anakin Skywalker in George Lucas' Attack of the Clones.

Christensen's boyish appearance and insidiously friendly manner in the film captures the complexity of a character who is basically a pathological liar yearning for love and fame.

Writer and director Billy Ray is outstanding in delivering one of the best fact-based dramas on screen in decades.

He treats the film as if it were a journalistic piece, explaining the who, what, when, where, why and how of Glass' downfall.

The most insightful moment of the film comes when a receptionist of The New Republic says all troubles can be avoided if there are photos to back the fabricated articles. Another human flaw: We always believe what we see.

VERDICT: Go to the movies