Truth

I hate George W. Bush. Going back nearly sixteen years I remember saying to my  mom when I was in college that he scared me and that I hoped that John McCain would get the republican nomination. Every day during the Florida recount of November 2000 I was glued to the results.

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Each day I wished for a miracle. Then as the years went on all that I feared about him being president proved to be true. I was baffled with how so many people blindly followed him in the days after 9/11. It was as if the events of that horrible day took away millions of people’s ability to think critically. Then in 2004 when Bush called for a federal constitutional amendment that would have declared that marriage was limited to heterosexual couples I knew I had to do something to try to stop him from getting a second term. In the summer of 2004 I began a short term job canvassing for the Democratic National Committee.

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The job changed my life, made me lifelong friends and gave me an opportunity to speak to thousands of people all over Los Angeles and Ventura counties about the Presidential election of 2004.

I remember when CBS broke the news story about W’s military service and his failure to fulfill his obligations.

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I also remember the almost immediate backlash against the story. It was tough to be fighting for the future of this country door by door and have to argue about that story. One man I talked to in Long Beach, California told me that he had been undecided but because of the allegations that the documents were false he had decided to vote for W instead of John Kerry. I just couldn’t understand.

 

The events surrounding that news story is what the movie “Truth” is about.

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Last night my husband and I went to see this movie. The fact that the film hasn’t gotten more attention is a damn shame because it’s very good.

 

There are two ways to view “Truth”. It can be viewed through a political lens and it can also be viewed through a filmmaking lens.

 

Make no mistake “Truth” is a political movie. The movie very much captures the mindset of many of the American public in 2004. The mindset that you were un-American if you questioned the President in a time of war (don’t even get me started on how those same people have questioned every single action that President Obama has taken over the last seven years.) The film does a good job of raising the questions that the original “60 Minutes II” news story raised eleven years ago. Why was George W. Bush in the Texas air National Guard instead of the regular air force and once he was in did he fulfill his service? The film, the public record and the news story show that there is preponderance of evidence that strings were pulled to get George W. Bush into the National Guard and that his fulfillment of his service was, at the very least, questionable.

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The film also does a good job of showing how our media often is more interested in finding a scandal than looking at the whole picture. Not to mention the problems that happen when news becomes entertainment and big business bleeds into news. What I like about the political side of the movie is that it doesn’t completely let Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett), Dan Rather (Robert Redford) and others involved in the production of the story off the hook. Certainly errors were made in the reporting of the story but I agree with the film that those errors were not so egregious that those involved should have lost their jobs. Not when the documents were never proved to be fakes and when questions involving W’s military service still haven’t been answered.

 

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From a filmmaking perspective “Truth” is slightly less successful. The film is entertaining but not as engrossing as I wanted it to be. There are times when it gets a little too preachy about the ethics of the news business. But then again you can’t have the film be so successful from a political perspective without giving up a little on the filmmaking side.

 

Cate Blanchett is fantastic in the lead role, but then again when isn’t she fantastic?

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I went back and forth on Robert Redford’s performance. Too often he is given the role of moralize but when his Dan Rather is just human his performance is much stronger. I really enjoyed Topher Grace’s performance, although I do have to admit that his big speech toward the end of the movie was a little contrived.

 

“Truth” is a very good movie. It’s not perfect but it is worth seeing. I actually think it’s worth seeing for anybody regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum.

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