Shattered Glass Review

In Jacques Audiard's Un Héros Très Discret (A Self-Made Hero), the hero in question, Albert, creates a fictive past in the French resistance and wriggles his way into various government posts in post-war France. The lies mount up faster than Kill Bill's bodycount, but in the chaos of a country recovering from occupation and humiliation, the truth takes a long time to filter through. Mathieu Kassowitz's brilliant performance as Albert leaves the viewer with complete sympathy with his fictitious life, maybe due to our own desire to live out destinies more palpably enthralling than those assigned to us by destiny.




The world of Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen), the young co-editor of The New Republic, feeds on a different chaos - the maelstrom of Washington journalism. The workshifts are gruelling, the pay isn't that great but Glass gets high on seeing his name in print and being part of the elite writers whose comments are read in the highest circles of power. His writing is funny, sharp and cinematic - a small problem remains - most of his facts are completely fictitious. Young Conservatives on drug-fuelled romps, Lewinskygate paraphanalia conference - all great scoops written with vivid detail and a literary verve that has Rolling Stone, George and Harpers, queueing up to order pieces. The chances of getting caught seem rather distant given Glass' meticulous fabrications ranging from fictive websites, voicemails, business cards and handwritten notes. But Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard), the new editor, is starting to have some doubts about Glass and his uncanny ability to conjure up extraordinary stories on a weekly basis.

I know, I know - a film with Hayden Christensen in the lead was not my idea of fun either, but, to my surprise, he is simply perfect as the Glass. The flimsy fake veneer the journalist dons is conveyed admirably by Christensen's tense performance. As the pressure mounts on him, there is a danger of simply not caring about the character but thanks to a solid script we keep on caring and hating the character in equal measure until the credits roll. Glass' character is so pervasive that the rest of the cast has trouble gaining much prominence bar Sarsgaard as the unpopular editor pitted against Glass. Chloë Sévigny and Hank Azaria provide solid minor second roles, both shining in their scenes but remain underused.For a first effort, Billy Ray has managed to produce a convincing small-budget movie, in no small part thanks to his meticulous research and extensive interviews with many of the characters. Though the film's narrative sags slightly around the midpoint and the final payoff seems somewhat contrived, this is quite an assured film with a clear grasp of the topic that has become all too familiar in recent months.




The DVD:

The image:
The original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is respected in an anamorphic transfer. The colour palette has been voluntarily muted in large portions of the film so any strong variation in the colour schemes is intentional. In one of the closing scenes, I noticed a certain amount of flickering - again this may have been an effect added by the director. Globally, the transfer is sharp and lively with few problems bar a bit of background artifacting in some of the blacks.



The sound:
The 5.1 mix may seem like a bit of an overkill as the film is heavily dialogue based. However, the surrounds are used effectively to render the all encompassing sound that comes in those open-plan offices. I didn't notice the sub-woofer getting much of a workout but it's not the kind of film that really needs it anyway. The mix is clear and clean with no noticeable problems.


The extras:
The DVD cover claims articles by Glass are featured as an extra but they weren't there - I hope they get this mistake sorted before the release date. However, the rest of the extras were present. A director's commentary is provided with the extra bonus of the real Chuck Lane appearing on it to talk about his experience of Glass and his impression of the film. They both interact pretty well with few noticeable silences providing a well above average commentary track. A brief (12 minute) documentary interviews Glass (on the release of his first novel!) and his co-workers about the events surrounding the film. This contains spoilers and is best avoided until after you've seen the film. Finally, the usual theatrical trailer is included.



It's a shame the writings of Glass didn't make the final cut as they are unavailable online (removed by the respective publications) but are talked about in such detail in the movie, you really want to read them for yourself. However, the other two extras make a good attempt at elaborating on the story and giving something more for the viewers who want to dig deeper.

Conclusions:
A good film and an equally good DVD release - the films is a nice surprise and is well worth seeking out. The DVD packs some good extras that are worthwhile dipping into. Well worth the purchase.

Film
7 out of 10
Video
8 out of 10
Audio
8 out of 10
Extras
6 out of 10
Overall

8

out of 10

Last updated: 03/06/2018 03:11:38

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