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TOP 100 MOVIES in 2003!
SHATTERED GLASS, 2003
Cast: Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsgaard, Chloë Sevigny, Rosario Dawson, Melanie Lynskey, Hank Azaria, Steve Zahn
Stephen Glass’ position, as star journalist for ‘The New Republic’, comes under threat as an online news company, Forbes.com, choose to pursue one of Glass’ articles with a follow-up piece.
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I have found this particular review incredibly difficult to complete. Billy Ray’s ‘Shattered Glass’ is possibly my favourite film of the last 10 years – frankly, I think it’s brilliant (this is essentially my conclusion). What frustrates me, however, is that you cannot search for any information on this film without ruining the conclusion. Synopsis on the reverse of the DVD cover gives this away, and it absolutely baffles me.
‘Shattered Glass’ tells the true story of Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen), a journalist for the highly prestigious ‘The New Republic’; at the time, the only in-flight magazine for Air Force One. He reached a ‘rock star’-esque status as a journalist. One particular piece, ‘Hack Heaven’, gets a lot of attention – especially from the online news company ‘Forbes.com’ (then non-famous) who wish to pursue a follow-up article to the original Glass article. As the new editor Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) decides to gives ‘Forbes.com’ access to all references to the Glass’ article, the foundations in which Glass’ article is built begin to crack.
Technically, this film is very well made. Aside from around ten minutes as the film enters its third act, the film is set in an interior (mainly the offices of both ‘The New Republic’ and ‘Forbes.com’) and director Billy Ray has done a fantastic job of keeping the film visually engaging. Ray has adopted an excellent, guerrilla approach to the direction and an aboriginal soundtrack to accompany the story. This is a very intriguing looking film.
The cast is one of the strongest I have ever had the pleasure of watching including Hank Azaria, Steve Zahn, Chloe Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard (whose performance convinced me that Sarsgaard is my favourite actor) and Hayden Christensen. Some may find that last addition difficult to comprehend, but one assures that Christensen’s portrayal as the brilliantly complex, awkward and tragic Stephen Glass is one of the films greatest elements (one of many, I cannot stress this enough).
The narrative is one of the most interesting I have seen in a good while. The film is initially driven through Glass’ point of view and the film wonderfully and humorously introduces us to the range of characters and the world of journalism. Then, as Chuck Lane becomes the newly promoted editor, narrative perspectives changes as it becomes unclear who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist. It is interesting to note the shaky-camera style is slowly abandoned as truths are revealed as the film goes on. As Ray himself states, “[the film] is more involving, trying to figure out what is real and what is not”.
This is where I’ve hit a road-block with my review regarding what I should say in terms of the film’s conclusion. This conclusion is one of the most intellectually engaging elements and it’ll have you discussing and pondering for a long time after the credits have rolled. Those who are familiar with the true story of Stephen Glass and ‘The New Republic’ circa 1998 have nothing to worry about and can read any information one wants before watching the movie, but for those who are not familiar with this information I recommend watching the film and before searching for any material about plot, and then decide whether or not this reviewer was correct in not discussing information other reviewers may. Perhaps people might disagree, and that’s fine – I just feel that the information given on numerous film websites, etc, assumes the audience is aware of the ending before audiences have seen it. The audience is not 100% sure of the reality of things until minutes before the film is over.
Oddly, I gave my opinion on ‘Shattered Glass’ way back in the first paragraph and it still stands. I am particularly fond of this film. The acting is wonderful, the plot is genuinely engrossing and the mise-en-scene is carefully conjured and composed. Billy Ray consulted many who were involved with the original celebrated case, including the real Chuck Lane as scenes and dialogue are very accurate depicted. For my money, whilst it’s not the most recognised film of the last ten years, it’s certainly one of the highlights.