Nothing But the Truth (2008) - Plot Summary Poster


Showing all 4 items
Jump to:


  • 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?

  • Rachel Armstrong is trying to balance her life as wife to novelist Ray Armstrong and "soccer mom" to adolescent Timmy Armstrong against the want to advance her career as an investigative journalist at the national news desk of the Capital Sun-Times newspaper. Her name within the profession may become more renowned when her editor, Bonnie Benjamin, decides to print the latest explosive story on which she has been working and for which many predict she will win a Pulitzer Prize. The story is that Erica Van Doren, the wife of Ambassador Oscar Van Doren who has been critical of the current administration, is a covert CIA operative who investigated and found conclusive evidence that the Venezuelan government was not responsible for a recent assassination attempt on US President Lyman. Erica's report was ignored by the White House, the US government which proceeded to bomb strategic Venezuelan sites in retaliation. Beyond exposing Erica's role, the story is not meant to be critical of her or Ambassador Van Doren per se but rather the White House for their inappropriate and potentially illegal behavior, which the newspaper sees as being in the same league as something like Watergate. The coincidental part of the story is that the Van Dorens' daughter Alison Van Doren is Timmy's classmate, although Rachel doesn't know the Van Doren parents personally and has only seen fellow soccer mom Erica in the past from afar in their respective volunteer work at the school. Although he OKs proceeding with the story, what makes the newspaper's chief counsel Avril Aaronson nervous is that Rachel has not divulged to him or anyone else at the newspaper her primary source, although Rachel, Bonnie and her staff have verified the story through secondary sources. The issue is is that it is considered treasonous for government officials to have provided Rachel this type of information, and thus the story could be problematic if Rachel's primary source is someone in the White House or within the CIA which is most likely the case. Although the story is meant to focus on the White House's actions and behaviors, it instead results in the two women in the center being the targets. Many of Erica's colleagues believe she knows who leaked the story to Rachel, she herself being under suspicion to support the views of her husband. The government, through the FBI which hires special prosecutor Patton Dubois, is determined for Rachel to reveal her source as a measure of national security, there being precedent in a 1972 case which ruled that national security trumps Rachel's First Amendment right to protect her source. The newspaper in turn hires high powered lawyer Albert Burnside to fight Rachel's case in front of a grand jury against Dubois. Rachel, who is as determined to keep her source a secret beyond the First Amendment issue as Dubois is as determined for her to reveal the source, may not be prepared for the consequences, which could be jail time for contempt for as long as she decides to hold out.

  • In Washington, D.C., a female reporter faces a possible jail sentence for outing a CIA agent and refusing to reveal her source.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Writer-director Rod Luries new film is the story of Rachel Armstrong (Kate Beckinsale), a young reporter on the national desk of the Capitol Sun-Times, a major Washington, D.C. daily. Rachel writes an explosive story that reveals the identity of covert CIA agent Erica Van Doren (Vera Farmiga) that, once published, causes all hell to break loose and the government to demand the identity of Rachels source.

    With the support of her editor, Bonnie (Angela Bassett), her papers in-house attorney (Noah Wyle) and her husband, Ray (David Schwimmer), Rebecca defies the charismatic, career-minded special prosecutor, Patton Dubois (Matt Dillon). When Rachel also declines to reveal her source to U.S. District Court Judge Hall (Floyd Abrams), he cites her with contempt of court and throws her in jail, pointing out that Rachel alone holds the keys to her cell and that time in the D.C. Detention Center may help her come to realize this.

    The story follows the hardships Rachel experiences behind bars as well as the legal struggle played out by her attorney, Albert Burnside (Alan Alda), as he pleads her case on First Amendment grounds -- a case he argues all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. Everyone is rabid to know: Who is the source and why is Rebecca so committed to sacrificing so much to protect it?

    As with Luries filmmaking breakout THE CONTENDER, for which Joan Allen and Jeff Bridges were both nominated for Academy Awards®, NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH is set in Washington, D.C., staged at the harrowing intersection of governmental power and personal integrity and told from a distinctly feminine perspective.

    While THE CONTENDER focused on one ground-breaking female Senators fight to maintain her dignity as she weathers a partisan dirty trick on her way to assume the office of Vice President, NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH portrays two very different, very strong Washington women as they fight to protect what they hold most dear.

    TRUTHs Rachel Armstrong fights to protect her source, her integrity and her career. And after being exposed as a covert CIA operative, Erica Van Doren fights to protect her reputation within the agency and the sanctity of her other life as a caring suburban mother.

    Written and directed by Rod Lurie, NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH is a Yari Film Group release. The film is produced by Bob Yari, Marc Frydman and Lurie, with James Spies serving as executive producer. Alik Sakharov is the director of photography; Eloise Stammerjohn is production designer; Lynn Falconer is costume designer and Sarah Boyd is the editor. The film was shot on location in Memphis, Tennessee. [http://www.nothingbutthetruthfilm.com/]

See also

Taglines | Synopsis | Plot Keywords | Parents Guide

Contribute to This Page