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State of Play (2009)

PG-13 | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 17 April 2009 (USA)
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When a congressional aide is killed, a Washington D.C. journalist starts investigating the case involving the congressman, his old college friend.

Director:

Kevin Macdonald

Writers:

Matthew Michael Carnahan (screenplay), Tony Gilroy (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Popularity
1,185 ( 478)
2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Russell Crowe ... Cal McAffrey
Ben Affleck ... Stephen Collins
Rachel McAdams ... Della Frye
Helen Mirren ... Cameron Lynne
Robin Wright ... Anne Collins (as Robin Wright Penn)
Jason Bateman ... Dominic Foy
Jeff Daniels ... George Fergus
Michael Berresse ... Robert Bingham
Harry Lennix ... Detective Bell
Josh Mostel ... Pete
Michael Weston ... Hank
Barry Shabaka Henley ... Gene Stavitz
Viola Davis ... Dr. Judith Franklin
David Harbour ... PointCorp Insider
Sarah Lord Sarah Lord ... Mandi
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Storyline

A petty thief is gunned down in an alley and a Congressman's assistant falls in front of a subway - two seemingly unrelated deaths. But not to wisecracking, brash newspaper reporter Cal McAffrey who spies a conspiracy waiting to be uncovered. With a turbulent past connected to the Congressman and the aid of ambitious young rookie writer Della Frye, Cal begins uprooting clues that lead him to a corporate cover-up full of insiders, informants, and assassins. But as he draws closer to the truth, the relentless journalist must decide if it's worth risking his life and selling his soul to get the ultimate story. Written by The Massie Twins

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Who's telling the Lies? See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violence, language including sexual references, and brief drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site [France]

Country:

USA | UK | France

Language:

English | Cantonese

Release Date:

17 April 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Los secretos del poder See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$14,071,280, 19 April 2009, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$37,017,955, 18 June 2009

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$87,812,371, 18 June 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Russell Crowe had Ridley Scott read the script to help him decide if he wanted to make it. See more »

Goofs

When Cal is driving to Stephen's office near the end of the film, it shows him driving without anything on his right hand, which was heavily wrapped up in obvious white bandages in both the scene before and after his drive. See more »

Quotes

Rep. Stephen Collins: Am I talking to my friend now or am I talking to a reporter?
Cal McAffrey: I gotta be both.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The printing process of a newspaper is shown as the ending credits start to show up. See more »

Connections

Featured in My Second Vote: Me-O-Mentary II (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Please Don't Talk About Murder While I'm Eating
Written and Performed by Ben Harper
Courtesy of Virgin Records Ltd
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A tense thriller with top-notch acting and writing
26 April 2009 | by Reel_starzSee all my reviews

About a month before State of Play came into theaters, I read an article in The Washington Post (I live in the D.C. area) about the realism of the news industry as portrayed in the movie. One of the Post reporters served as a consultant on the set and I must say that he seems to have done his job. Almost every aspect, from the constantly chaotic state of the newsroom to the reporter-lingo, feels authentic and true to reality. While there are occasional times when the movie's main character, the reporter Cal McCaffrey, strays from the usual ethical and professional guidelines, there are logical explanations for such instances that are given in the movie. At one point, Russell Crowe even ad-libs a line about the outdated technology he has compared to the state-of-the-art computers given to Della Fry, Rachel McAdams's gossipy blogger: "I've been here fifteen years, I've got a sixteen year old computer. She's been here fifteen minutes and she's got enough gear to launch a f***ing satellite." This line was inspired by the feud between print journalists and their online counterparts that, according to the Post reporter, exists in real-life. Because journalism is so crucial to the story of State of Play, every minute detail contributes greatly to the believability of the film as a whole and it is this attention to detail that really elevates State of Play above the average political thriller.

The cast, which includes three Oscar winners, though Ben Affleck won for screen writing, could not be more perfect. With his long, shaggy hair, bulging belly and old, trash-littered car, Russell Crowe looks appropriately scruffy and he disappears into his role, becoming one of the most convincing journalists on screen in recent years. It is impossible to imagine anyone else in the role, especially Brad Pitt, who was originally signed on for the part. As his partner on the story, Rachel McAdams delivers, giving her character a very energetic yet idealistic flavor. Della Fry is, at least in the beginning, a rather obnoxious woman but, in large part due to McAdams, she gradually becomes more likable and we learn to accept her for who she is. Helen Mirren is splendid as Cameron, McCaffery and Fry's insistent boss, and every time she appears, the screen comes alive (not that it's dead when she isn't there). Ben Affleck once again proves that he can act when given the right material. He gives his character, a promising congressman, an air of detached arrogance mixed with frustrated vulnerability. Representative Stephen Collins certainly has his principles but throughout the film, that sense of morality is largely shrouded in secrets and mystery and the audience is forced to constantly guess and re-guess his true intentions. Aside from the main actors, the supporting cast does a terrific job with a slightly comedic, almost delightfully over-the-top performance by Jason Bateman as a pretentious PR agent. Also worth noting is Viola Davis, who plays a contact of McCaffrey's in the morgue, and even though she only appears in one scene, she makes the most of that short screen-time that, in turn, makes us remember her well.

Other than the superb cast, one of the most impressive things about State of Play is the script, which was written by Tony Gilroy, Billy Ray and Matthew Michael Carnahan and based on the 2003 BBC mini-series of the same name. However, it bears Tony Gilroy's distinctive mark not only because it involves corporate conspiracies and unending twists, but the witty dialogue could have been written by almost no one else. Occasional instances of humor help lighten the otherwise rather dark mood. Also, the writing is highly intelligent and makes the audience actually think rather than simply go along with the complicated plot. This can also be contributed to the direction of Kevin MacDonald who, after winning an Oscar for his documentary One Day in September in 1999 and directing the Oscar-winning feature film The Last King of Scotland, proves that he has loads of talent and hopefully, will remain prominent in the film-making industry.

Other noteworthy aspects of the movie are the cinematography and the score, both of which help carry the tension throughout the entire two-and-a-half hour film, even during quieter scenes. However, State of Play is not quite perfect. The main, and perhaps only, flaw is the minor plot holes that, while virtually unnoticeable during the actual viewing of the movie, become more obvious upon dissecting the movie afterwards. It is impossible to discuss these errors in detail without giving anything away, but they do make the conclusion a little less satisfying.

Nonetheless, the movie is so good in all other areas that it is still easy to overlook the implausibility of the ending. From the virtually flawless cast and writing to the authenticity of its portrayal of journalists and the thought-provoking political themes, State of Play stands out among all the conventional political thrillers churned out by Hollywood in recent years. Go see it!


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