So we’ve been a little slack here at hoopla.nu in getting around to reviewing this George Clooney-created dramatisation of Edward R. Murrow’s bold stance against Senator McCarthy, and I’m sure everyone’s read the glowing reviews that have proliferated in the press. I for one also think this movie is fantastic, although I didn’t love it quite as much as I’d hoped.
Confining events to the CBS newsroom was a brave undertaking, but of course this simply means that the script must be that much better. In Good Night, and Good Luck. such constrictions almost work perfectly. I was at times a little bored, particularly at one point when we were subjected to what seemed like ten straight minutes of senate hearing footage. I have no problem with the inclusion of archival footage, but ten minutes was a long time to be away from the central performers.
David Strathairn (Twisted) is brilliant as Murrow – he’s determined and courageous, but at the same time we can see his underlying trepidation as he risks not only his job but also his freedom (indeed in the very act of preserving just that). Joseph McCarthy of course appears as himself, and it’s astounding that he held such political sway for any amount of time, considering both his appearance and demeanour. One must remember that this was at a time before television was widespread, so that appearances mattered less. His very arguments, however, are vague and stunted, especially in comparison to the outwardly calm and collected Murrow.
The supporting players are uniformly strong, though their roles are in many cases very limited. Clooney (Ocean’s Twelve) manages to do the usual Clooney performance – strong, but at the same time nothing memorable. His direction however is fantastic, even when put to the test in a film that contains absolutely no musical score, rather several musical interludes. The tension pervading the moments before Murrow goes to air is spellbinding.
Good Night, and Good Luck. reminds us that the media as the ‘fourth estate’ is supposed to call into question those preceding it, and harks back to a time when they did just that. (Try and watch Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism after this if you want to get really depressed…) It also comes at a time when civil liberties are being threatened in the name of ‘freedom’, and is thus doubly powerful.Rating: