Monday, December 7, 2015


Born out of fear, the Hollywood blacklist and the subversion of American values by the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Cold War is far from one of America's prouder moments. Director Jay Roach's new film looks back at the Hollywood Ten, Hollywood screenwriters blackballed out of the studio system for their alleged involvement with the Communist Party. As the title suggests, the film primarily focuses on Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) and the struggles he and his family faced during the Red Scare.

Despite a prison sentence followed by being unable to write under his own name, Trumbo continued to secure work under a variety of pseudonyms and two of the scripts he wrote, but wasn't given credit for, went on to win Oscars for Best Picture. John McNamara's script is a bit by-the-numbers in its depiction of events, but Roach gets a terrific performance by Cranston and surrounds his star with a first-rate supporting cast that includes Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Louis C.K., Alan Tudyk, John Goodman, and Elle Fanning as McNamara's script follows the bizarre professional journey of Trumbo's career.

At 124 minutes Trumbo is a bit top-heavy and I found both Cranston's performance and film itself felt much more natural after the fallout of Trumbo appearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee. As the movie moves on to Trumbo's struggle to find work for both himself and others while also attempting to undermine the disastrous effects the blacklist the movie picks up steam and becomes a much more compelling story. While not as effective as Good Night, and Good Luck, Trumbo is still an effective narrative to focus on the dark days of the Red Scare with an Award-worthy performance from it star and a message about fear mongering and abuse of power that is as important today as during the height of the Cold War.

No comments: