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Film review: Truth – Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford shine in journalistic drama

Movie uses story of events that foreshadowed the resignation of veteran US news anchor Dan Rather from CBS in 2006 to explore the decline of mainstream investigative journalism

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 April, 2016, 12:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 April, 2016, 1:33pm

3.5/5 stars

One of Robert Redford’s occasional forays into political filmmaking, this small-scale drama is packed with ideas. The decline of investigative journalism due to corporate disinterest, the rise of “infotainment”, and the power of the establishment to disrupt and manipulate the news gathering process are just some of the issues it addresses.

Truth depicts the events that foreshadowed the resignation of US news anchor Dan Rather (Redford) from CBS in 2006. It revolves around CBS 60 Minutes Wednesday journalist Mary Mapes’ (Cate Blanchett) discovery of documents that pointed to the fact that George W. Bush had received preferential treatment during his time in the National Guard.

Mapes and her team reported the story, which Rather presented. But when media scrutiny of the documents put their authenticity in question, Rather had to apologise on television for covering the story, and CBS fired Mapes, who previously won acclaim for her story of the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Filmmaker James Redford on his famous father and dyslexia documentary

Director James Vanderbilt, who wrote the script, works hard to present all the angles to the controversy, and allows the network to put forward the notion of shoddy journalism by its staff.

Great performances by Redford and Blanchett also inject the movie with dramatic brio.

But the thrust of Truth is that CBS destroyed a true story because it didn’t want to upset George Bush, as this might damage its business interests. The film’s ideas are universal, but it will mean most to Americans, who will know the iconic position of Rather in US journalism.

Truth opens on April 21

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