First Hit: This struck home because of how two careers were ruined by the power of people in high position and the unwillingness to acknowledge the “Truth”.
I won’t talk about how this strikes home, and I will apologize ahead of time for any political bent this review may take. George W. Bush is protected here by his political strategists (see previous review of “Our Brand Is Crisis”) to divert the public from hearing the truth.
These strategist and doubt creators twisted enough controversy about the investigation towards Bush’s lost year (AWOL) of military service commitment that Dan Rather (Robert Redford) and Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) lost their jobs.
The story is how Mapes, a prize winning producer, discovers documents that indicate Bush went AWOL from his military duty. As she dug into the information it became clear to her and her team that this story was true, therefore CBS ran the story on 60 minutes with Rather telling the tale. The timing of this was crucial because Bush was running for President.
Bush’s team found ways to bring up questions about the information that was published. In pouncing on this, the pressure on CBS was enormous and they kowtowed to the bullies of government and sponsors who supported Bush. There was an investigation done and in the near last scene, Mapes tells the committee why they are wrong.
The most beautiful scenes are when Mapes and Rather are together talking. It is evident that there is a respectful father/daughter, mentor/mentee relationship built on mutual respect for each other’s work. When the brief and actual clips of Bush are shown, you see and feel the mealy small minded way Bush comments on his win - throwing up is an acceptable response.
This is what makes this film good; the mixture of relevant information and how it is presented. Just before the credits role, the audience gets to see that the research did not disprove Mapes’ story and that people’s lives were adversely affected by telling (or not telling) the “Truth”.
Blanchett is amazing in telling this story. I was captured by her character. Redford is perfect as Dan Rather. Topher Grace as researcher Mike Smith showed a lot of intensity – not sure it was needed. Dennis Quaid as Lt. Colonel Roger Charles, fact finder and conservative throttle for Mapes was strong. James Vanderbilt wrote a very strong compelling script and directed these fine actors and story is a clear honest way.
Overall: I like this film because of the story it told.