It seems I am undergoing a new hobby – inspired by “2004 – The Year of the Documentary” I recently have seen several based-on-true-story titles, including the excellent Touching the Void, and now Shattered Glass. Telling the cautionary tale of a young journalist (Stephen Glass) at one of Washington D.C’s premiere news magazines, and his drive to succeed at all costs, Shattered Glass capably details his personality traits and thus his maladaptive response to the pressures of his workplace. However, by making Glass a figure of pity and sympathy, Shattered Glass allows us to examine our own flaws, making it much stronger than it may well have been had it simply crucified him.
It seems The New Republic of the late 90s lacked an adult to smack the children into line, and thus suffered for it. How a bunch of barely legal young men and women were supposed to output credible, documented, insightful political and social commentary is beyond me. I remember being that age, and my peers were more interested in booze and the opposite sex than legislation and social theory. Growing up in this atmosphere, with constantly shifting allegiances, barely concealed attractions, and childish jealousies – well, I guess we see the result, when one man was too insecure, he stretched the truth just a little.
Christensen plays Glass almost perfectly – making him a figure of sympathy took some doing, and Christensen displays a depth I’ve not noted in his previous performances. Sarsgaard is excellent as the new editor, and I now wonder what else I have missed seeing him in, after his bravura performance in Garden State, and now Shattered Glass. Maybe I should have kept up a bit better in recent years? Sevigny, Hank Azaria and Steve Zahn are adequate in supporting roles.
Although the outcome is probably known by many, the strength of Shattered Glass is the delight it takes in revealing and explaining each step along the way – each lie, one after the other, compounding and contorting, until one can’t keep track of the truth and the fiction.
Shattered Glass is a very worthwhile watch, as intriguing and exciting as a fictional thriller, and yet more amazing for its ‘true story’ status.Rating: