Sat 14 Jan 2017
What happens when an undercover CIA agent and the investigative journalist who is exposing her to the broad public are both dedicated mothers of kids who learn together in the same well established American urban milieu? What happens when everybody does the right thing and yet the personal lives of the people involved are destroyed or worse? What is the price that is worth paying for following one’s principles – family, freedom, life? These are some of the questions that are being asked in Nothing But the Truth, the 2008 film directed by Rod Lurie.
Despite the disclaimer that starts the film the story is obviously inspired by a true case and the lead character by a true person – Judith Miller, a New York Times reporter who served 85 days in prison for refusing to name her source in a case where the name of a government agent was made public. It can also be seen as a strong feminist story, as all the key involved persons (the journalist, her redactor-in-chief boss, and the CIA agent) are all women, while the system of justice persons (the prosecutor, the lawyer, the judge) are all men. The story tells about political reporter Rachel Armstrong (Kate Beckinsale) getting under pressure to disclose the source of the information she published about the real identity of a CIA agent, actually a whistle-blower whose revelations are covered up. The clash is between the journalism ethics and the government secrecy, as what is perceived by the journalist as protection of her sources is from the legal point of view a possible crime of disclosing the identity of the agents. The price is however to be paid by both women in their personal life, although the film mostly focuses on the fate of the reporter. How far will she go to respect her principles?
The specialty of director Rod Lurie seems to be in political films, but here he succeeds to create not only an interesting intrigue and ask the tough questions, but also to build a credible character drama that exceeds the strict borders of the story. Lurie also wrote the script and the story flows well and is helped by an efficient team of actors. Best are Kate Beckinsale in the lead role and Matt Dillon as the prosecutor. The resulting film is both entertaining and raises interesting issues, it’s a politically-motivated film that avoids being dry and rhetorical by focusing on the human dimensions of the story.