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Truth Review

James Vanderbilt, the screenwriter of Zodiac and The Amazing Spider-Man, makes his directorial debut with an excellent recounting of the news story that brought down Dan Rather. In 2004, Rather (Robert Redford) and producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) reported the damning account of President George W. Bush’s time in the Texas Air National Guard. In the middle of Bush’s rocky re-election campaign, Rather and Mapes exposed the unsavory means Bush may have used to avoid Vietnam, which may have included going AWOL during his service. But the subsequent fallout due to allegedly faked military reports eventually took down the stalwart newsman and his producing pal.

Vanderbilt crafts a recount of these events that is more entertaining than the real thing. Redford opts not to ape Rather’s familiar mannerisms and winds up alternating between being more Rather and more Redford; he ends up finishing more consistently Redford. Blanchett pushes Mapes into Shakespearean CYA territory as the partisan hammer of corporate ownership waits to fall.

The film makes some late grandstanding like an unfunny, tragic Network but, early on, captures the exhilaration of reporters getting a story. Amidst a stellar cast that also includes Elisabeth Moss, Topher Grace, Bruce Greenwood and Stacy Keach, Dennis Quaid is an unsurprising scene stealer as a former Marine turned journalist. Truth might only tell one side, but it should fascinate both those who followed the story in real time and anyone who has never heard of “Rathergate.”