Truth movie full length review - "Truth" is fascinating entertainment, but THE truth is in the eye of the beholder.
Journalism is a tough business. And I would be willing to bet that anyone who disagrees with that statement has never done the job.
All most of us see is the finished product, but we don't see the hard work, long hours and, sometimes, danger that goes into bringing us the news. People often talk about the bias in some journalists or the mistakes a few of them make, but what we usually don't think or hear about is the large percentage of journalists who do their best to be objective and verify the facts that they report. However, like all of us, journalists are imperfect human beings and, as hard as they may try to avoid it, they are still susceptible to the power of their emotions, the influence of their prejudices and the human propensity to make mistakes. They will also fight as energetically as any of us when they believe they are right and are being unfairly attacked. We see all this in the docudrama "Truth" (R, 2:01).
By early 2004, Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchet) had been senior producer of the television news magazine "60 Minutes Wednesday" (also known as "60 Minutes II" and, simply "60 Minutes") for 15 years, as she worked closely with legendary CBS News reporter and anchorman Dan Rather (Robert Redford). In the spring of 2004, Mapes and Rather had worked together to break the story of U.S. military and intelligence personnel mistreating detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison (later winning a Peabody Award for their reporting). In late summer, Mapes became aware of the existence of documents which might lend credence to a long-standing rumor that then-President George W. Bush (son of then-Congressman George H.W. Bush) received preferential treatment from the Texas Air National Guard and even failed to fulfill all of his service commitments. In pursuit of the story, Mapes worked with Rather and assembled a team of journalists which included associate producer Lucy Scott (Elisabeth Moss), freelance journalist Mike Smith (Topher Grace) and military expert, retired Marine Colonel Roger Charles (Dennis Quaid).
As Mapes and her team developed their story, former Texas Air Guard officer Bill Burkett (Stacy Keach) supplied photo copies of the documents and CBS attempted to authenticate them. Handwriting analysts and document experts vouched for their authenticity and former Texas Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes (Philip Quast) agreed to go on camera with his claim that he had gotten Bush in the Air Guard as a political favor. The deadline for the segment to air was tight, but Mapes and her team were satisfied with the content of their story. They ran it on September 8, 2004 and the criticism of the story and the journalists involved was immediate and vicious. Accusations arose online that the documents were forged and Mapes' superiors at CBS, including Executive Producer Josh Howard, Senior Broadcast Producer Mary Murphy, as well as Senior Vice President Betsy West and President of CBS News Andrew Heyward (Bruce Greenwood) started asking a lot more questions. CBS News doubled-down on their story, releasing more facts, more explanations and more interview clips to back up their claims, with the reputation of the organization and their individual careers hanging in the balance. Eventually, CBS hired a team of lawyers led by Lawrence Lanpher (Dermot Mulroney) to conduct an internal investigation.
"Truth" is based on Mapes' 2005 memoir "Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power". As such, it is the story of what happened from her point of view and, as a journalist she makes it interesting. I like "Truth" in the same way I like Oliver Stone's 1991 Kennedy Assassination movie "JFK", as one version of a fascinating story, seen through the eyes of people who had their own interpretation of the incidents portrayed. Each film shows us a version of events which may or may not be 100% accurate and has drawn considerable criticism from those who hold to different interpretations of those events. Both films tell compelling stories, are well-scripted and very well acted by some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, but make little effort toward presenting a balanced representation of their stories or giving a strong voice to other points of view. When it comes right down to it, calling such a film "Truth" is pretty arrogant. However, in the search for verifiable historical truth, the film, whether the complete truth or not, is an entertaining step on a long and winding journey with many forks in the road. "B-"