Real-life events are at the heart of this very well-acted drama about pressures on the press when political issues are involved.


The year is 2004 and America is abuzz about the upcoming presidential election in which George W. Bush hopes to be given another term. At such a time it was political dynamite for the broadcaster CBS to devote a programme in their celebrated ’60 Minutes’ slot to an exposé that could harm Bush’s chances. What they claimed to reveal from material unearthed by producer Mary Mapes and her team of investigators related to the early 1970s: Bush had not only been helped to get into the National Guard (a step whereby he avoided the Vietnam war draft) but had then failed to carry out his consequent duties. However, CBS, Mapes and the show’s popular presenter Dan Rather soon found themselves bombarded by rumours that the papers that they had relied on had been forged. This would lead to Rather being required to apologise on air for a story no longer believed to be true. Subsequently CBS would set up a supposedly independent panel to look further into the matter.


Veracity or Chinese whispers? Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett


Truth is the directorial debut of James Vanderbilt best known for writing 2007’s Zodiac and it echoes that film in its sense of authenticity. This is strongly felt in the scenes in which Mary and her team get to work to investigate the truth or otherwise of what Bush seemed to have done while also checking out who is actually prepared to talk openly about it. Furthermore in a strong cast Cate Blanchett as Mary and Robert Redford as Rather are on fine form and the respect that Mary felt for the veteran Rather is very well conveyed.
This is clearly a film aimed at an intelligent audience, one that will appreciate this particular story as it unfolds while also recognising its wider implications about the need for press freedom. Towards the end, however, the film’s tone changes. In America Dan Rather is a famous and beloved figure and the price that he was made to pay is portrayed in scenes which, not without a touch of slow motion, seem very consciously calculated to give him the status of a hero. But even before this one or two moments have failed to ring true (most notably a big set piece well played by Noni Hazlehurst which not even she can prevent from taking on a fictional feel). This is disappointing coming as it does after so much good work and the failure is down to Vanderbilt and not to his actors. Despite this reservation, Truth is a film worth seeing.




Cast: Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Elisabeth Moss, Topher Grace, Dennis Quaid, Stacy Keach, Noni Hazlehurst, Nicholas Hope, Andrew McFarlane, Helmut Bakaitis, Natalie Saleeba, David Lyons, Bruce Greenwood, Dermot Mulroney.


Dir James Vanderbilt, Pro Bradley J. Fischer, James Vanderbilt and Brett Ratner, Screenplay James Vanderbilt, from the book Truth and Duty: The Press, The President and the Privilege of Power by Mary Mapes, Ph Mandy Walker, Pro Des Fiona Crombie, Ed Richard Francis-Bruce, Music Brian Tyler, Costumes Amanda Neale.


RatPac Entertainment/Echo Lake Entertainment/a Mythology Entertainment production etc-Warner Bros. Pictures International (UK).
125 mins. Australia/USA. 2015. Rel: 4 March 2016. Cert. 15.