2008   USA Nothing But the Truth
Nothing But the Truth Image Cover
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Director:Rod Lurie
Studio:Battleplan Productions
Writer:Rod Lurie
IMDb Rating:7.4 (13,101 votes)
Awards:2 nominations
Genre:Drama, Thriller
Duration:108 min
Rod Lurie  ...  (Director)
Rod Lurie  ...  (Writer)
Kate Beckinsale  ...  Rachel Armstrong
Matt Dillon  ...  Patton Dubois
Angela Bassett  ...  Bonnie Benjamin
Alan Alda  ...  Alan Burnside
Vera Farmiga  ...  Erica Van Doren
David Schwimmer  ...  Ray Armstrong
Courtney B. Vance  ...  Agent O'Hara
Noah Wyle  ...  Avril Aaronson
Floyd Abrams  ...  Judge Hall
Preston Bailey  ...  Timmy Armstrong
Kristen Bough  ...  Allison Van Doren
Julie Ann Emery  ...  Agent Boyd
Robert Harvey  ...  Warden
Michael O'Neill  ...  CIA Director
Kristen Shaw  ...  Angel Rabinowitz
Alik Sakharov  ...  Cinematographer
Comments: This is a good film, not a great one but I'm going to call it a great film because I loved it enough for it to fall into the great film category for me. Great films are films that I will watch again and again just to spend time with the characters, performances of characters, really. It's seldom that the story or plot of a film by itself will prompt me to multiple viewings. The story here starts off like it's going to be a dramatization of the Valerie Plame affair. A newspaper reporter (Kate Beckinsale) reveals the identity of a CIA operative (Vera Farmiga). The government goes after the reporter, in the name of national security, to get her to reveal her source. The reporter refuses to cooperate, is held in contempt of court and goes to jail. Beyond that, the story veers off to create a commercial thriller with its own character backgrounds and struggles.

Part of the veering off involves some questionable, or maybe just questioning of, gender politics. Beckinsale's character is given an elementary school aged son, setting her up as not just a professional woman but also as a mother. As her time in jail grows longer, her relationship with her son grows strained and the government uses this to its advantage to try and get what they want. Her struggle, then, is split between motherhood and first amendment issues. I'm not sure this plot branch was scripted very well but there is one scene where it is driven home economically. After doing a television interview where she is berated for neglecting her son, her own lawyer is coaching her to reveal her source and informs her that the public is no longer behind her and thinks she is being selfish and a bad mother. She declares, "Oh! So the message is, you can trust your sources unless they're a mother, in which case they will crack!"

But enough about the story. Suffice to say, don't go see this in the hopes of insight or elucidation regarding the Valerie Plame affair. It's fictionalized enough to distance itself from that. It does have a few short, but not overly dramatic, preachy moments about first amendment issues but they are done fairly and the more fair they become the less pedantic it ends up. It's a pretty smart film. So let's get to the performances.

Kate Beckinsale is beautiful, even while in jail without eye make up for most of the film. No big deal. But she is also very genuine in her role here. And genuine is what makes for good performance. She plays the right combination of spunk and vulnerability which provides great detail in her dual role as mother and gender neutral professional. Same goes for Vera Farmiga. Jesus, the woman scares me. She is tasked with delivering some of the most ridiculous dialog in the film ("You are an unpatriotic little cunt who’s going to walk right off the plank into the bowels of hell, do you know that?") but doesn't lose credibility. She's that tough. It's like she's a chameleon with nerve endings on the outside of her skin. If you even look at her the wrong way she might electrocute you. She'll smile while it happens. Best to just send good vibes her way and hope she doesn't bother you. She has become one of my favorite actresses due to her acting like a really fast car that doesn't handle well. Matt Dillon on the other hand, comes with power steering. He seems bigger now, not just physically but in terms of presence. He plays the special prosecutor charged with getting the information from Beckinsale. He is pitch perfect and totally in control even though he seems to never make any progress. Very well done. I'm tired of Alan Alda's charming simplicity, but for those who are not, in many ways he steals the show as the eccentric, well-dressed lawyer who represents Beckinsale. Angela Bassett, David Schwimmer, and Noah Wyle round out the ensemble cast. All good, surprisingly or not. Noah Wyle actually creeped me out a bit, in a good way. He wasn't at all like a wounded puppy dog staring off into space. With the exception of Schwimmer, every time someone from this ensemble has a scene it becomes their film. Color me impressed.

Then there's the reveal at the end. Brilliantly provocative. Make sure you've been paying attention because it changes everything. It's unexpected and sure to stir up chatter on your way out the theater. Lame or awesome? There is no in between. I loved it just for the cahoneys.

Summary: Washington, DC political journalist Rachel Armstrong writes an explosive story about a government scandal in which she reveals the name of a covert CIA agent. When a special government prosecutor demands she divulge her source, she refuses and finds herself behind bars, struggling to defend the principles she has based her career upon.

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