Thinking Pulitzer Prize and hoping to bring down a President, D.C. political columnist Rachel Armstrong writes that the President ignored the findings of a covert CIA operative when ordering air strikes against Venezuela. Rachel names the agent, Erica Van Doren, a woman whose young daughter is in Rachel's son's class at school. The government moves quickly to force Rachel to name her source. She's jailed for contempt when she refuses. She won't change her mind, and the days add up. Chaos descends on Van Doren's life as well. First Amendment versus national security, marriage and motherhood versus separation. What's the value of a principle? Written by
The kind of intelligent movie Hollywood rarely makes anymore
This was shown last night at the Toronto International Film Festival and was very well received. It is a beautifully acted, deftly written examination of the tension between freedom of the press and the power of the state, based very loosely on the Valerie Plame case. The fact that writer and director Rod Lurie spent 13 years in the newspaper business is evident throughout, making for one of the most compelling and believable portrayals of what it is like to be a political reporter for a major newspaper since All the President's Men. Kate Beckinsale (the reporter) and Vera Farmiga (as the CIA operative) are outstanding and each delivers an Oscar-worthy performance. Matt Dillon gives one of his best performances as the smarmy, ambitious and self-righteous prosecuting attorney. David Schwimmer, an odd casting choice, does a fine job within a fairly narrow range. Surprisingly, I even enjoyed Alan Alda's performance as a high-powered, rather cynical and self-obsessed Washington lawyer, hired to defend the beleaguered reporter. But the two women really steal the show.
There was much discussion in our group about the ending and whether it enhanced or undercut the basic message of the film. No point in spoiling it here, but I can assure you it will provoke debate.
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