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Shattered Glass

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
Shattered Glass

from Film Forum, 11/06/03

In the late 90s, Stephen Glass was a writer for The New Republic who fabricated more than half of the stories he contributed. Director Billy Ray has now made a critically acclaimed movie about the deception, and the release seems all the more relevant in the wake of the recent Jason Blair scandal at The New York Times. The film stars Hayden Christensen as the devious reporter, Peter Sarsgaard as the man who exposed him, and Steve Zahn (Out of Sight) as an Internet reporter who presses the question of Glass's veracity.

J. Robert Parks (Phantom Tollbooth) writes, "Shattered Glass will draw inevitable comparisons to All the President's Men. Both are true-life journalism stories that surmount the obstacle of familiarity to create highly interesting and imminently watchable movies. Both star two up-and-coming actors, ones who will be fixtures in Hollywood for decades to come. And both are fantastic."

But David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) calls it a "middling biopic. The film, though full of lofty ideals, ultimately proves an emotionally unsatisfying defense of journalistic integrity. While the film plays like a modern Greek tragedy, it offers scant insight … into what prompted its flawed protagonist to indulge in such irrational and unconscionable dishonesty."

Most mainstream critics are unable to resist the temptation to compare Hayden Christensen's performance with his much-criticized turn in Star Wars, Episode Two: Attack of the Clones, but most of them are applauding the film as "one of the season's most thoughtful offerings," … "an astute and surprisingly gripping drama."

from Film Forum, 11/20/03

Writer Stephen Glass's marathon of fabricated news stories published in The New Republic are the subject of writer/director Billy Ray's Shattered Glass. Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) writes, "Ray … addresses questions not often handled in today's films. Our news and entertainment media have commingled to such an extent that it can be hard to discern where one ends and the other begins. This was certainly the case of Stephen Glass for whom fact and fiction were woven so indiscriminately."

Darrell Manson (Hollywood Jesus) writes, "Ray does a wonderful job of telling the story. Shattered Glass is a cautionary tale. It warns us that even the most trusted institutions can be corrupted. It warns us that our lies and sins will catch up to us. It warns us that trying to hide or cover up those sins will only dig our pit deeper."

Michael Medved (Crosswalk) calls it "one of the most compelling and realistic recent films about prestige journalism. Hayden Christensen plays the monstrously manipulative main character with assurance, subtlety and irresistible style, thoroughly redeeming himself from his embarrassing star turn as Anakin Skywalker in the most recent Star Wars dud."