15 June 2004

Shattered Glass...



Hi. I'm Stephen Glass. I FUCKED UP.

Just got finished watching Bill Ray's 2003 film, Shattered Glass. It is the story of New Republic journalist Stephen Glass, a man found to have partially or entirely fabricated over half of his 41 pieces for the magazine. A pre-cursor to Jayson Blair, Glass's story is archly pathetic and economically (maybe too much so) told. Well performed too- Hayden Christensen is great as Glass, and Peter Sarsgaard is amazing as his editor at the New Republic, Chuck Lane.

The story, in and of itself, is immensely compelling. Glass is a really compelling figure, and his undoing is something to watch. Christensen plays him like a scared kid, always apologizing, almost fetishizing authority. A sort of late 90's "All the President's Men," Steve Zahn and Rosario Dawson play the Forbes Online reporters who initially discovered Glass's indiscretions. Everything in in the film is great- Sarsgaard's Lane is a conflicted figure- trying to do right by someone he wants to trust, yet getting no support or credit for the neck he sticks out on Glass's behalf. The scenes in which he and Christensen walk through one of Glass's fabricated stories is remarkable. Though he is a strident liar on his feet- slowly but surely Glass wilts under speculation. It is a very neat trick the plot plays- it never specifically needs to disprove what Glass has written. It is in the strength of the characters.

That being said, anything resembling motivation has been edited from the film, and ostensibly this story seems to have come fully borne in a vaccuum. Nothing happens peripherally, and we are never appraised of a sense of need on Glass's part to placate, seek approval, or make it big. No ambitions, no history, no neuroses (outside of the ones operating on the surface)- just a good yarn I guess. A great movie with no center, it's worth it simply for Peter Sarsgaard's performance. Damn, I love that guy. Also seen in Boys Don't Cry, he nailed Chuck Lane's empathetic but determined role.

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