Shattered Glass (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

Review byMatthew Turner10/05/2004


Five out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Part gripping office drama, part psychological thriller, this is an impressively acted, stylishly directed film - easily one of the ten best of the year.

Shattered Glass is written and directed by Billy Ray, based on the 1998 Vanity Fair article by Buzz Bissinger about Stephen Glass. At 24, Glass was the youngest writer on The New Republic magazine (“the in-flight reading for Air Force One”) – he was clearly talented and yet he fabricated 27 stories out of the 41 he wrote for the magazine. The film also marks screenwriter Ray’s directorial debut and he gets terrific performances from a superb ensemble cast.

Aspiring Journalist Fakes Stories

The film is told in flashback, with Glass (Christensen) addressing a classroom full of aspiring journalists in his home town. The structure is extremely clever: as well as holding back on the central revelation (since we don’t know when Glass actually starts to fake his stories), it also beautifully captures the intricacies of office politics, particularly the ways in which Glass ingratiates himself with everyone around him.

Initially, Glass tells of his first successful story and there is a minor query on his facts, but his editor, Michael Kelly (Hank Azaria) backs him up.

However, when Kelly is replaced by the less popular Chuck Lane (Peter Saarsgard) office tensions run high, and, after an internet journalist (Steve Zahn) uncovers some inaccuracies on Glass’ article about a junior hacker, Lane risks alienating his entire staff by investigating. The tension is then cranked up as Glass resorts to ever more desperate measures to avoid being found out.

Christensen In Really Quite Good Shock

Hayden Christensen is extremely good as Glass revealing a hitherto unsuspected depth of talent – he singlehandedly atones for his brattish Annakin Skywalker. It’s an impressive physical performance (his eyes, in particular) and you can sense his fear at being unable to stop himself as the lies keep piling up.

He’s also aided by an excellent script that gradually turns his frequent repeated phrases (“Am I in trouble? Did I do something wrong?” whenever he has to see the editor; “It’s silly, I know, I probably won’t publish it” after brilliantly pitching every story; and several others scattered throughout the film) from a cute quirk into something resembling psychosis.

Sarsgaard is equally good as Chuck Lane, who slowly emerges as the hero of the piece, despite being initially as unpopular with the audience as he is with his fellow co-workers. There’s also great support from Chloe Sevigny and Melanie Lynskey (as Glass’ biggest defenders), as well as a wonderful performance from Hank Azaria, who, on the strength of this, should be given lots more straight roles instead of the Comedy Foreigners he usually gets lumbered with.

In short, Shattered Glass is unmissable - a gripping psychological drama with some brilliantly tense sequences, it’s also impeccably acted and stylishly directed. Highly recommended and a strong contender for the top ten of the year.

Film Trailer

Shattered Glass (12A)
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Content updated: 20/04/2019 05:44

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