For Reel

Trumbo (2015)
November 29, 2015, 12:02 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Jay Roach
2.5 Stars
TrumboFor the sheer pleasure of watching today’s Hollywood elite play dress up, there’s an irresistible quality to Trumbo. At its most shameless, screenwriter John McNamara and director Jay Roach seem content with simply confronting audiences with the amusement of seeing a convincing manifestation of the legends of Kirk Douglas (Dean O’Gorman) or Otto Preminger (Cristian Berkel). And yet, despite the intoxication of witnessing such enthusiasm by all the players involved, Trumbo never makes a convincing argument for Dalton Trumbo’s specific genius, nor a full sense of the intricate politics and betrayals of the HUAC era. For a film about a famous screenwriter, there is very little about what made these scripts different–all we get is a clip of The Mouth of Truth scene in Roman Holiday, whereas a selection from a less famous film like Tender Comrade would have better suggested Trumbo’s unique and decidedly radical, sometimes jingoistic approach to screenwriting. The film’s best moments involve Michael Stuhlbarg’s Edward G. Robinson–as an imitation, Stuhlbarg gets across Robinson’s real life sensitivity (famously at odds with his onscreen gangsters), but perhaps none of the star’s allure. Regardless, Robinson’s turmoil in this trying period suggests the ugliness of censorship in an authentic, brutal way. This film doesn’t damn Robinson, but it is just a little “disappointed”–it suggests how Hollywood’s elite willfully dehumanized themselves, beaten down to the point of betraying their own ideologies.

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