Film Review

Shattered Glass

todayMay 11, 2023 156

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By – Gareth Jones

For fans of newspaper/journalism dramas, the origins of fake news, indie film supporting casts extraordinaire

Released 20 years ago in 2003, Shattered Glass is worthy of being discovered or re-evaluated.  The first film directed by successful writer Billy Ray (who has a varied resume as a writer including The Hunger Games, Flightplan, Overlord, and Captain Phillips) it tells the true story of the rise and fall of Stephen Glass, a young, ambitious writer who faked articles for The New Republic. Glass saw his form of journalism in the tradition of Woodward and Bernstein and hoped to continue the history of the esteemed publication holding the folks in power accountable for their actions.  He was part of an ambitious young crop of writers in the late 90’s at the New Republic including Chuck Lane played brilliantly by Peter Sarsgaard.  Chuck Lane took over the editorial job after former editor Michael Kelly (Hank Azaria giving a fine understated performance) was forced out by owner Marty Peretz.  As such, it was Chuck Lane who would be at the helm when the truth of the fake articles penned by Glass was uncovered by newly minted internet journalists.  Of course, all of this would and could be boring if the lead actor playing Glass was just adequate.  In this case, he is played by Hayden Christensen in what I believe to be his finest role.  This film came out between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith and is a fascinating comparison to Christensen’s work as Anakin Skywalker.  I actually like his performance in the Star Wars series, but his performance as Stephen Glass allows him to show an even deeper range.  It is his mannerisms and the way that he weaves a story enrapturing his audience, making it believable that these seemingly intelligent reporters and editors were taken in by his mendacity.  Christensen finds a way to move beyond his handsome features and become a news nerd with charm.  He can move between a charming yet nebbish reporter to a craven, pitiful individual with shocking alacrity.  

As seen already, the cast is a who’s who of indie film in the early 21st century.  Steve Zahn, Rosario Dawson, Melanie Lynskey, and in an excellent turn Chloë Sevigny. Much like other newspaper films based on real life such as All the President’s Men, Spotlight, and The Post, Shattered Glass pulls a magician’s trick. We the audience know how this story is going to end, but we are still on the edge of our collective seats during the time of the viewing. Much of the credit for this film’s achievement lies in the performance of Hayden Christensen.  

Streaming now for free on Freevee and Tubi.

Written by: Gareth Jones

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