Shattered Glass (2003)

reviewed by
David N. Butterworth

A film review by David N. Butterworth
Copyright 2003 David N. Butterworth
*** (out of ****)

During his tenure at "The New Republic," a respected policy and current events publication that its publishers like to refer to as "the in-flight magazine of Air Force One," star journalist Stephen Glass wrote some 41 well-received articles. In 1998 his editor Chuck Lane fired Glass when it was discovered that his most recent article "Hack Heaven" was completely fabricated. This revelation caused Lane to review Glass's three-year TNR output to date, only to discover that as many as 27 of his published stories were either partially or wholly made up. First time director Billy Ray's "Shattered Glass" expertly deconstructs this incredible tale of deception with Hayden Christensen ("Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones") quietly convincing in the central role. Peter Sarsgaard plays Lane with effective authority and the film is given substantial weight by ChloŽ Sevigny, Melanie Lynskey, Steve Zahn (as the "Forbes Digital" editor whose Google checks of Glass's sources turn up blanks), and Hank Azaria as Glass's former editor Michael Kelly. Based on the "Vanity Fair" exposť by Buzz Bissinger, Ray's film is a shattering indictment of professional ethics gone haywire, as the personable Glass dupes almost everybody with whom he comes into contact (and several he doesn't) with his easy-going charm and self-deprecation. It's not immediately obvious why the 26-year-old Glass did what he did other than he could--you have to believe he was a good enough writer *not* to doctor the facts on the other 14 TNR articles he wrote, plus some freelance work for "Harper's," "George," and other industry leaders. But avoid the fact checkers and copy editors he does, and it's amazing his scam went unnoticed for as long as it did. "Are you mad at me?" Glass asks his suspicious bosses whenever his notes are sequestered. Ironically yes.

David N. Butterworth

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