Nothing But the Truth

Year: 2008
Production Co: Battleplan Productions
Director: Rod Lurie
Producer: Bob Yari
Writer: Rod Lurie
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Matt Dillon, Vera Farmiga, Alan Alda, David Schwimmer, Angela Bassett, Noah Wyle

After the jingoism of The Contender was very hard to forget, and I don't think I'll forgo a single one of his films on the strength of his debut effort. I'm going to be very interested to see what he does with one of the tiresome endless horror remakes in Straw Dogs .

I've seen few directors working who do smart dialogue from realistic people directed at adult audiences as well as Lurie. Every scene is a pleasure to watch as the characterisations and drama arise organically out of the watertight script.

It's tempting to think he gets his casting just right - Joan Allen, Gary Oldman and Jeff Bridges made The Contender something very special, but Nothing But the Truth makes you realise the opposite.

Even though Kate Beckinsale has the talent to rise above the one trick ponies of the Underworld films and second fiddle love interest in simplistic popcorn churners like Van Helsing, she's never been Oscar material. And Matt Dillon's career has just become an embarrassment recently because of rubbish like You, Me and Dupree.

But both of them shine alongside actors way above their stature like Vera Farmiga and Alan Alda simply because of the concept and execution in the screenplay.

Riffing on an infamous case from the US a few years back where a journalist faced jail rather than give up an anonymous lead, Beckinsale is Rachel, a political reporter tracking the aftermath of an assassination attempt on the President. In retaliation the US has launched an attack against Venezuela, where it's believed the assassination originated.

Rachel has a tip that a local soccer mom Erica (Farmiga) is actually a CIA agent and reported back to the White House that Venezuela had nothing to do with it, evidence the administration subsequently buried to carry out its attack. Rachel wants to blow the story and call the administration out, but it means publishing about the anonymous tip. When she does, the authorities come down hard wanting to know where the leak originated, risking Erica's career and ultimately her life.

The government sets young and hungry prosecutor Patton (Dillon) on Rachel and despite the appointment of high profile defender Alan (Alda) and the support of her editor (Basset) and legal team Rachel is put behind bars for what she believes will be a few days or a week at the most.

Almost a year later, her marriage to the understanding but impatient Ray (Schwimmer) crumbling but her resolve firm, Rachel is still there while the powers that be battle it out on the outside.

Like he did in The Contender, Lurie asks us a question. What's more important out of patriotism to the authority charged to protect us or the professional safety of those we rely on to call them out on corruption? In real life, as it did here, the answer is a sad indictment on the policies of today, and Lurie lets the script speak for itself in giving us his answer.

It's fiery, brilliant and challenging, every word and every frame the highest caliber of the filmmaking craft.

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