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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
Anytime I see a project that has Rod Lurie attached, I can't get to a screening fast enough. His writing is always intelligent, decisive, thought provoking, timely and topical, with a story that embraces integrity, ethics, morals and social conscience. His direction is always with military crispness, sharp and clean. His casting choices are impeccable and his characters well crafted, multi-textural, fractured human beings that have a fire about them that draws one as a viewer ever deeper into the story and the film. Lurie now attains even greater heights with the riveting NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. Championing justice and the high price of integrity, conviction and principle, he takes a page from today's headlines and makes it his own with a story involving a top notch journalist and an exposed undercover CIA operative and the the fight to protect not only a source but the values of motherhood, family, privacy and the right to know.
Kate Beckinsale is mesmerizing as Rachel Armstrong. A physically demanding role given the intense prison sequences, her physicality pales in comparison to the emotional intensity and strength she puts forth on screen. Like a caged animal, she calculates every move, every action, every reaction with an internal ferocity that ignites every scene. Equally amazing is Vera Farmiga as Erica Van Doren. Having just seen Farmiga as a devoted loving WWII mother in "The Boy In The Striped Pajamas", I was blown away by her tough as nails, hard core performance as Van Doren which she balanced with a carefully toned maternal edge; an act equaling that of Beckinsale's maternal double edged sword.
As if the women aren't reason enough to be on the edge of your seat with Lurie's taut script, enter Noah Wylie, Matt Dillon and Alan Alda. Noah Wylie was a surprise casting choice as Avril Aaronson but he is a completely neurotic firey self-involved frenetic attorney - to a tee. But then toss in a little taste of a legal oil slick in the form of Matt Dillon as prosecutor Patton Dubois and the ante is upped exponentially. As Dubois, Dillon brings new levels of arrogance and self-importance to the perception of attorneys (and trust me, many are very arrogant) which sparks dynamic chemistry between he and Beckinsale. And then there's Alan Alda. Always a welcome addition to any film, and particularly a Rod Lurie film, Alda is the voice of reason, the conscience of the film. He gives reasoned voice to the character of Rachel and never moreso than in one of the most impassioned and empowered monologues addressing the Supreme Court. That exquisitely written argument and Alda's delivery is phenomenal. It is the social conscience and fundamental essence of the film. Powerful and priceless, it's eloquence defies description.
Lurie himself even says, "I think Kate is just fantastic in the film, as is Vera and Alan. " A real coup was the casting of one of the seminal First Amendment attorneys in the United States, Floyd Abrams, who stepped in not only to play Judge Hall, but he also served as technical adviser on the film. Sometimes he would stop in the middle of the shoot and say 'this is wrong' to which Lurie would tell him, 'You're playing it, play it right." The meticulous detail of the written structure is equaled by Lurie's fine tuned direction. Metaphorically addressing the issues of the film through light and texture, the visual aspect of the film is as interesting as the dialogue. What strikes me most, however, is the intricately woven clues that lead up to the surprise climactic ending where we finally do learn the answers to Rachel's personal convictions. It will blow your mind.
Intelligently written. Potent performances. Superlative gripping story. A principled film that speaks soberly and passionately about standing up for one principles; be it a soccer mom, CIA agent or reporter. When all is said and done there is NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH.
Written and directed by Rod Lurie.
For my complete review of the film and interviews with Rod Lurie and Kate Beckinsale, go to www.moviesharkdeblore.com
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