Friday, January 1, 2016

Review: Trumbo (2015)

                             'Trumbo' Is In Need Of A Rewrite

           To be as delicate as I can, I could see this film sweeping the Emmys. It does have the feel of a cheap made-for-TV movie.

         Trumbo follows the real-life story of blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) and how he was labeled a Communist and fought to continue his passion for screenwriting, even as they tried to silence him.

        I'll start off with Bryan Cranston. Bryan Cranston commands the screen as Dalton Trumbo. While Cranston showcases how Trumbo aggressively refused to be silence, to the point where he angers those around him, in some of his more quiet moments, he does showcase layers of sensitivity. I also thought some of his fellow cast members did a fantastic job. Louis C.K., who plays fellow screenwriter Arlen Hird, has a nice supporting presence, offering bouts of humor in the most serious circumstances. Elle Fanning, who plays Trumbo's daughter Nikola, is also very good. As an actress as young as herself, Fanning is able to really hold her own opposite older veterans and here, it is no different.

       My biggest problem with the film has to be the pacing. I feel that if it hadn't dragged so much, I might've been more interested in the story at hand. I have always toyed with screenwriting and have always had a fascination with the Oscars which the film delves into. So, it is unfortunate that its pacing and excessive use of conversation scenes took me out of the film. The film may be about the business of Hollywood, resulting in dialogue-heavy scenes, but it kind of needs fireworks to make it more appealing whether that involves techniques like breaking the fourth wall or witty narration.

       I also found Helen Mirren's portrayal of gossip columnist Hedda Hopper to be rather one-note. Granted, she doesn't really have anything to do other than serve as an albatross to the main characters every time she does appear on screen. Still, rather than creating some kind of grey area, Mirren mainly resorts to hissing her dialogue throughout, painting Hopper out to be some kind of mustache-twirling villain.

       Overall, Trumbo is rather dismal TV-quality picture that is thankfully anchored by its colorful and terrific performance by Bryan Cranston as well as some of his fellow cast members. I understand how serious the Blacklist era was, but I wish that this movie about a screenwriter was better written.

Grade: C-