Monday, 11 May 2009

State Of Play

How much does Last King Of Scotlandd director Kevin Macdonald love All The President's Men? Having seen State Of Play, I'd say quite a lot. A smart, complex, dense adaptation of the six-hour BBC series scripted by Paul Abbott and directed by David Yates, Macdonald's Russell Crowe-starrer takes the essence of Abbott's original, layers in the major issue confronting journalism today (ie. new media versus traditional, gossip versus hard news), and filters it all through a 70s movie sensibility a la President's Men or Three Days Of The Condor. Considering Crowe's famed dislike of the Fourth Estate, he nails the part of a hard-bitten, get-the-story-at-all-costs reporter with much success. Quite why it took three highly talented screenwriters — Matthew Carnahan, Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray — plus an uncredited Peter Morgan to compress the show's six hours into a two-hour movie remains a mystery, but the end result grips and twists and engages the brain, the action restricted to Crowe's investigative reporter and Rachel McAdams' blogger chasing down leads, making phone calls and, well, typing. Is it as satisfying as the original TV miniseries? No, but it's definitely well worth seeking out. If only to encourage the studios to continue making such adult-orientated material.

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