State of Play

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State of Play
swan_enjoyable
Run Time: 1 hr. 58 min.

Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck in Universal Pictures’ “State of Play” (2009).

Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck in Universal Pictures’ “State of Play” (2009).

When Russell Crowe was asked why he did this movie, he said, “I got into movies to tell stories that affected me. Universal called me and said they were $40 million in the hole already on this film, shooting starts in two weeks and they needed me. It was being directed by Kevin Macdonald who did “Touching the Void” and “The Last King of Scotland,” two films I thought were impressive. I read the script and felt the intensity in the middle where it ratchets up a gear. I wasn’t predisposed to do it but if I get an emotional response, I want to do it. I read the script and it hit me. I said I can either pretend that it didn’t hit me, or I can do it. So I did it. It is really exciting and tense; it never lets you go from moment to moment to moment.”
Well, that might be true up until the end. I enjoyed it until the dénouement, when it reminded me of “Knowing,” which was also an interesting film until the ludicrous ending.
This film ends leaving the audience aghast that this was what it was all about. I saw this in a theater with real people as the audience. I listened as they exited and the most common comment was that they couldn’t believe that that was what it was all about.
Russell Crowe gives his usual outstanding performance. Rachel McAdams’ talents are wasted in a role that any high school girl could have played. Helen Mirren is effective as the autocratic publisher for whom Russell and Rachel work.
There was one scene that shouted out at me, however. It’s just a reaction shot of McAdams standing in a doorway, and then turning to walk away. I asked my companion how many hours she thought it must have taken them in makeup to prepare McAdams for that one fleeting shot. I can’t ever remember seeing an actress more made up and lit for one short shot.
This movie is a great disappointment. What has happened to all the writers in Hollywood? After seeing “Knowing,” and now this, I’m beginning to see why the producers were fighting the Writers’ Guild so hard on their contracts. If this script had been given to Irving Thalberg, he would have fired the writers and brought in people who knew how to end a good story.

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