Truth (2015)

Cast includes: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Robert Redford (All is Lost), Topher Grace (Spider Man 3), Dennis Quaid (Vantage Point), Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men), Stacy Keach (Nebraska), Bruce Greenwood (Deja Vu)
Writer/Director: James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spider-Man, White House Down)
Genre: Drama | History (121 minutes) from a book by Mary Mapes


Huffington Post

“Does he deserve reelection?” It’s 2004, and this is the question we’re being asked to answer about George W. Bush. 60 Minutes producer, Mary Mapes has to take a Xanax before she can get through a conversation with her own lawyer… and he’s on her side! In flashbacks, we go back 6 months. Dan Rather, of 60 Minutes and the anchor of CBS Evening News since 1981, is being honored at an industry event when he gets a call from Mary Mapes. The story is important, and Rather leaves early… Abu Ghraib. 60 Minutes breaks the story with photos, and it goes viral. Celebrating afterward, colleagues tease Rather about his old signoff… “Courage.” Wonder why he stopped saying it? Back in Dallas, Mary’s 7-year-old son has a video camera and is trying to interview a reluctant mom. “I’m trying to get to the truth, Mommy.” (A budding journalist, for sure.)

“Ben Barnes has a story about Poppy Bush getting young George into the National Guard so he could avoid serving in Vietnam.” So what! That story’s been around for years. But after the swift-boating campaign to discredit John Kerry, anti-Bush activists are more determined than ever to resurrect the National Guard story… but they need something solid. And this might be it. “Let’s say I have the documents… why should I show them to you?” asks Colonel Burkett. Mapes isn’t sure if the Colonel or his documents are for real. But if they are, they might finally ignite a story that’s been smoldering for 4 years. There’s good news and bad news… the documents from 1973 are indeed explosive, but Burkett doesn’t have the originals. He turns over Xeroxes and 60 Minutes fact checkers go to work vetting them. Without originals, however, they can never be airtight vetted. But mostly, they get thumbs ups. There’s no time slot on the Sunday program, but they can get it on the Wednesday show in 2 days. Mapes, Rather and the team decide the story’s a go, and they can just barely get it in under the wire. In their post-show celebration Lucy Scott says this kind of story is why she went into journalism in the first place… “This one mattered.”

Days later, the talk isn’t about the explosive new information… it’s about a little superscripted “th” and the type font… so-called “experts” say they didn’t have those in 1973 and the documents are fake. If you remember the history, you’ll already know that the “scandal” brought down many respected professionals, including Mapes and Rather. But remembering the history won’t ruin the movie, which puts meat on the bones and is as relevant today as it was a decade ago. Robert Redford as Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett as Mary Mapes are both excellent. The story is based on a book by Mary Mapes and is very true to actual events. While some may still dispute the authenticity of the documents, there has never been a plausibly disputed of the facts. What this is narrative is about is shooting the messenger when you don’t like the message. Important stories are still being sidetracked by manufactured outrage over details that often turn out to be non-issues. More than ever, networks today are focused on turning news into entertainment, and this film illustrates that phenomenon as well. When Dan Rather stepped down, he did it with grace and left us a moving message… “For journalists who believe recording truth means risking all… courage.”

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

The “scandal” that lead to Dan Rather’s stepping down as the CBS News anchor

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R (Language)
Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Mainstream Limited Release
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism
Nutshell: George W. Bush’s questionable National Guard career
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Informative & Thought Provoking

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