State of Play

2009-11-26 15:36
 

What it's about:

Sonia Baker, a young woman who served as a lead researcher to popular Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), dies after an apparent suicide. Meanwhile, brash Washington Globe journalist Cal McCaffrey (Russell Crowe) and a young political blogger Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) discover alarming connections between Baker's death and the murder of a petty thief. As details of Collins' extra-marital affair with Baker becomes tabloid fodder, McCaffrey and Frye are launched head-first into a conspiracy, with liars and manipulators obstructing their path to the truth.

What we thought of it:

Politics, sex and greed make a lethal combination, if not a particularly sexy one. The thought of a 'political thriller' is often enough to make most head straight for something with slick action scenes or crass laughs instead. Because State of Play certainly doesn’t have any of that, thank heavens. What it does have is class, a pitifully rare feature in its own right.

Adapted from the superb six-part BBC mini-series, State of Play is a tense, masterfully paced drama that capitalises on its stellar cast while weaving a twisted conspiracy plot that pits a private military corporation named PointCorp, who are angling to become the official defensive arm of the United States government, against idealistic congressman Collins. Crowe's McAffrey, it turns out, is an old college buddy of Collins and shares a romantic history with his beleaguered wife Anne (Robin Wright Penn). The friendship and innate trust between the politician and the journalist forms the basis for the story, and while it's hard to imagine Affleck and Crowe ever having been at college together (in reality, Crowe is eight years older than Affleck, and it shows) the unfolding web of mistruths, subterfuge and double speak is creates an intriguing aura of portent. 

By transporting the story from London to Washington, the writers (including Michael Clayton director Tony Gilroy) are unable to resist the temptation to insert a few sneaky references to that other great political scandal exposed by a pair of enterprising journos, All the President's Men. The Watergate building is used as a key location, and the interplay between McCaffrey and Frye bristles with the infectious thrill of chasing the story.

Crowe, as always, is on top form. He may not be the most likable star, but he sure knows how to play infinitely intriguing characters. Some of his best moments are shared with Helen Mirren, whose sardonic British wit and steely gaze are perfect for the role of his harassed editor Cameron Lynne (originally played by another British screen legend, Bill Nighy, in the mini-series).

Despite its stellar, Oscar-gilded cast, State of Play might prove a bit rich for some – a glance at the box office Top 10 over the last few months indicates that intelligent drama doesn’t rank very high in audiences' priorities – but it (and the BBC mini-series which inspired it) is essential viewing. It could be the most /* Style Definitions */ table.Table {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400enlightening two hours you'll spend in a movie theatre this year.


The cast is superb and the story bristles with the thrill of truth-seeking in a world of lies. It’s not all about politics in this fantastic drama.

preshen govender 2009/06/18 9:09 AM
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Being a politician is like working at a brothel ,the more you work the more you get screwed
easye 2009/06/22 2:28 PM
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Highly rate this movie. Watched it quite recently and is def. one of the best movies at the cinema - it will make you think about it long afterwards
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