Thu 13 Dec 2012
What a difference three years make when it comes to telling stories and newspapers and journalist. By the time it was made State of the Play took the plot of a BBC series and carried it over the Ocean melding the story of a newspaper team with big corporate and government conspiracy and congressional corruption, all in a well-paced thriller wrapping. Today it looks more like an elegy to the profession of investigative reporter, to the good old methods of traditional journalism. If the film was made today not only many of the technical details would have been different, but also the focus may not have been that much on the printed press. It may have been the journalist helping the blogger and not the other way. Almost as director Kevin Macdonald after having made a movie about The Last King of Scotland made afterwards a movie about the last great investigative journalist. State of Play is not a bad film, but it does not raise to hights either, and the good parts end by being not exactly the ones planned by the director and producers.
The story starts with a double murder and an apparent accident that seem unconnected excepting the fact that they are reported by the same newspaper (a reverence to and quotation of the Washington Post of the 70s, actually the Watergate hotel is one of the settings in the film), although we well know things will change soon. They do indeed, as the subway accident which leads to the death of a Congressman’s assistant and the street shooting that opens the film get together in an intrigue that seems to implicate the politician (Ben Affleck) who is investigating a big corporation involved in the private security services oversees while managing an affair with his assistant. While the corruption and sex scandal story develop the focus shifts to the investigation of the news team and especially to the people behind it.
The thriller part of the story is reasonably well written, but brings really nothing new. It is more the characters in the newspaper redaction that catch the attention, their methods, the way they balance the duty to expose the truth with their personal feelings, the attitude towards their profession. Russell Crowe is quite convincing as the investigative reporter whose actions walk on the thin line between professional duty and personal feelings like friendship and emotional involvement. He is also a low-tech guy, slightly out of touch not only with the technology but mostly with the morals of the day. Rachel McAdams supports well Crowe as the young blogger who grows with the case, while Helen Mirren as the Chief Editor is as royal as ever and made me regret that her role was not more consistent. I never was a fan of Ben Affleck‘s acting skills and I did not become one after seeing this film.