“Truth” is based on the real-life 2004 events surrounding a “60 Minutes” investigative report put together by veteran show producer Mary Mapes (played by Cate Blanchett), legendary CBS News anchor Dan Rather (Robert Redford), and their team, involving then President George W. Bush’s military service. On-record interviews and copies of documents obtained by Mapes revealed enough damaging information about Bush’s attempt to avoid being sent back to Vietnam in the early 70s that everyone felt good about airing the explosive story. However, after the report runs, questions about the validity of the documents arise – and Mapes, Rather and everyone at CBS must deal with the truth that their truth may not be the REAL truth.
First-time director James Vanderbilt also wrote the script, adapted from Mapes’ own memoir, which is why she is clearly the main focus of the film and, unfortunately, not Rather. Most people going to see this movie will be interested in Redford’s performance of the iconic newsman and may be disappointed in how limited his role really is. Redford plays it “rather” straightforward, though the scenes where he is at the center of attention are my favorites of the film. Blanchett is also strong, though she’s given a boatload of showy scenes, and especially towards the end as we watch Mapes become an emotional mess, I felt like I was watching an encore “Blue Jasmine” performance.
“Truth” is compelling enough to keep your attention, and it’s fascinating to see, as things start to unravel and then snowball, just how bad it got. However, Vanderbilt and the script place way too much importance on this journalistic event. The dialogue and overall tone combine to blow this relatively minor moment in the history of TV News way out of proportion. A few slow-motion scenes and corny dialogue also add to the melodrama.
If the focus was the decline and fall of Dan Rather, then maybe. But this isn’t Watergate, or “Rathergate”: it’s “The Mary Mapes Story”. Frankly, whether or not she loses her job because of her mistakes wasn’t of much interest.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Truth” gets a C+. Courage.
Running Time: 125 min.