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Shattered Glass

Starring Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsgaard, Hank Azaria, Chloe Sevigny, Melanie Lynskey, Steve Zahn, Rosario Dawson, Cas Anvar
Based on a Vanity Fair magazine article by Buzz Bissinger
Written and Directed by Billy Ray

IN SHORT: Reality does not stink. [Rated PG-13 for language, sexual references and brief drug use. 103 minutes]

Strangely enough, Shattered Glass is the second based on a true story of a journalist film we've planted for in the last twenty four hours, our time (Veronica Guerin being the first). It is the one that doesn't bend over backwards to get Academy attention for its star and in doing so comes through as a far superior, and highly recommended, picture.

As Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen) describes it for a high school journalism class, each feature article penned for The New Republic -- he also freelanced for Rolling Stone and Harper's and George magazines -- runs past the eyes of two editors with a corresponding pass through the reference materials owned by the magazine's fact checking squad. What Glass doesn't tell the class at Highland Park High is that a significant number of articles that ran under his New Republic by-line were fabrications. For those that don't read it (and with a circulation of 80,000 tops, that's most of us), TNR is a highly influential journal in DC. It is, so we are told, the in-flight reading material in the backs of seat pockets on Air Force One.

With a writing staff whose median age at the time of this story is 26, TNR sat on the biting edge of political journalism. That means a lot of kidlets who don't know much turn their youthful energies to the task of reporting. Editor Mike Kelly (Hank Azaria) was the first to guide Glass' career. He was also the first to be fooled by the kid's forgeries. The father-son relationship forged between Kelly and Glass was sundered when Kelly was forced out of the magazine (in real life, Kelly died while covering the war in Iraq). New editor Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) isn't much liked by the staff but he doesn't care much about that. He does care about the reputation of the magazine and his hard line for fact checking is what will put Glass' butt in the fire.

It is Adam Penenberg (Steve Zahn), an editor at Forbes Digital online editor, who figures out that all that comes from the pen of Mr. Glass has the factual equivalent of excrement from a bull -- Glass' last article focused on an online world Penenberg was all too familiar with; Chloë Sevigny and Melanie Lynskey are equally effective as TNR staff writers who stand up for their colleague. Their performances complement the bigger names and help transform what could have been a dry bit of reality re-creation into something that is fascinating and compelling to watch.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Shattered Glass, he would have paid . . .


It's a stroke of luck that the release of Shattered Glass should come mere months after Jayson Blair similarly embarrassed the New York Times. But that's a story for a different movie.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.