Now any movie that stars actors of the caliber of Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Helen Mirren and also has talented actors such as Rachel McAdams, and deals with journalists, a corporate scandal waiting to be made public and American politicians is bound to be a good watch. And ‘State of Play’ doesn’t disappoint in this regard. This Universal Pictures adaptation of the British TV Series of the same name, deals with the shady dealings of American Senators and their clandestine dealings with military contractors.
The movie itself starts off as a simple investigation of the murder of a petty-thief and a pizza delivery man who was also murdered as he witnessed the incident. How this story links to an apparent suicide of the principal researcher and secretary to an American Senator forms the crux of this movie. The script and screenplay stay taut throughout except probably for the last 5-10 mins of the movie when all the loose ends are wrapped up one by one.
Regulars to this site will know by now that I personally am a big fan of movies which deal with the shady undercurrents of corporate scandals and their possible linkups to politicians, especially in the American landscape. This movie in many respects resembles ‘Michael Clayton’ whose review I had put up some time ago in the blog.
And similar to ‘Michael Clayton’ this movie also relies on a few characters and actors carrying forward the story. Unlike most conventional studio movies, there is no central villainous character or actor here who all of us would love to hate, but rather presents the stereotypical large multinational conglomerate as the villain that all of would love to see go down. This movie barely stops of achieving its logical conclusion and indicting the corporation and bringing it down for its crimes, but knowing what we know by the end of the movie, the result is pretty much a foregone conclusion.
Russell Crowe, as Cal McAffrey, a reporter for the Washington Globe who is grudgingly admired by his editor, Helen Mirren, has in my opinion, played a wonderful role in this movie. His approach to work, while being ruthlessly professional, is also ethical and humane in terms of the fact that he does everything he can to bring out all sides of the story rather than sheer commercial interest in achieving ‘breaking news’. Indian news channels can learn a thing or two from the portrayal of Cal McAffrey’s character in this movie, in terms of how to be completely thorough before publishing news in widely read public media.
Ben Affleck, although competent, fails to really impress us with his portrayal of an enigmatic American Senator. To be just to him, the role demanded him to be one of the slimy ones who has had a sexual affair with one of his aides (which seems to be the ‘in-thing’ in American politics nowadays), and yes, he has done reasonable justice to his role.
Please catch this movie if you like movies which deal with how American politicians and big corporate work glove-in-hand to pull the wool over our eyes.
LAMBScore for this movie