This film tells the true story of fraudulent Washington, D.C. journalist Stephen Glass (Christensen), who rose to meteoric heights as a young writer in his 20s, becoming a staff writer at "The New Republic" for three years (1995-1998), where 27 of his 41 published stories were either partially or completely made up. Looking for a short cut to fame, Glass concocted sources, quotes and even entire stories, but his deception did not go unnoticed forever, and eventually, his world came crumbling down...Written by
...Justice will be done. As an aspiring writer, one of the biggest problems for me (as with all authors, I'm sure) is setting up a believable story with realistic characters and motivations, but the trick is being able to do so within the more realistic realm of fiction.
With that in mind, then think about this for a moment: A story about a 15 year-old computer hacker who brings a major software company to its knees would make for great entertainment at office meetings or parties. It has a realistic setting and a believable plot, with a kid who hacks into a company's database, and offers his services in preventing others from doing so, but first wants "X-Men" #1, a new car, and subscriptions to Playboy and Penthouse. This kid is then hailed as a hero within the hacker community, and he gets to sit back and revel in his newfound fame.
Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen) had this story nailed down pat - characters and everything, but his problem was that he was not a fiction author, he was the premiere writer for an important technological magazine and nearly ran it into ground when it was discovered that he had fabricated more than half of his articles.
Make no mistake though, "Shattered Glass," which details Stephen Glass' devastating fall from grace when his deception is unearthed by the staffers of a rival magazine, is not at all a pleasant experience. I sometimes had to remember that this was based on a true story, and that a man lied to earn his fame.
I have to admit that by the time the credits began to roll, I was almost on the verge of tears, because I was so saddened and angry - saddened because Glass was on the surface, basically a good and well-liked person. I was angry because this well-liked man was also a fraud, and he deservedly got caught when he became trapped by his own elaborate deceptions.
The final 20 minutes are the most achingly difficult moments to sit through, as Glass' plans come apart at the seams, and we the audience are given front-row seats to his destruction. And we watch as Charles "Chuck" Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) sits back and (unsympathetically) bears witness to all of it. He is totally unflinching to Glass' pleas to drive him somewhere before he does something terrible to himself, like suicide.
It would also help to imagine yourself in Lane's position as an editor, to finally hear that you have been deceived by a kid, a bright kid nonetheless, and then find yourself faced with the difficult task of cleaning up the devastation. You then have to print a formal apology in the next issue of your magazine saying to your readers that they've been lied to.
An effective, powerful film - "Shattered Glass" - and I'm not sure that I could ever sit through it again.
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