Director Kevin Macdonald moves from documentaries and the Idi Amin drama THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND to this fictional thriller that feels all too real at times. Based on the BBC miniseries of the same name, STATE OF PLAY stars Russell Crowe as Cal McCaffrey, an old-school-style journalist working for the Washington Globe.
He begins to investigate the death of a young woman who was the research assistant and mistress of his friend Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), an ambitious congressman whose career is likely ruined when his affair is revealed. Joined by young political blogger Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), Cal races against time and deadlines to solve the murder, which may be only a small part of a much larger crime. Like ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, STATE OF PLAY is a thought-provoking thriller that manages to be both timely and timeless. It reflects its 2009 release date with a plot that questions the validity and existence of newspapers in the face of bloggers and the 24-hour news cycle, as well as addressing the efforts of a Blackwater-like group working in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But Macdonald’s film should also age remarkably well; Crowe’s Cal must reconcile his personal life with his professional one, and ethics lie at the heart of the movie. Crowe gives a get-noticed performance in the middle of a packed cast that also includes Affleck, McAdams, Helen Mirren, Jeff Daniels, and Robin Wright Penn. Jason Bateman steals scenes--and adds a bit of much-needed comic relief--in his small part in the film.
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