Shattered Glass (2003, Billy Ray)
You may not have heard of Stephen Glass. Heck, you may not have heard of The New Republic magazine. You probably have heard of Jayson Blair, though, and the stories are very similar. Glass fabricated over half the articles he wrote for The New Republic, and writer/director Billy Ray decided that he had to make the story into a film.
Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker–you know him) plays Glass, the youngest reporter at The New Republic in Washington, D.C. Glass is very charismatic and writes articles that capture people’s attention, including people at Rolling Stone and George, where he also contributes. He’s also great at interoffice politics, and his coworkers and editor adore him. The trouble comes in, or at least seems to, when Michael Kelly (Hank Azaria) is fired as editor and replaced by Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard), who is much less popular, and who doesn’t buy into Glass’s cult of personality.
It’s theoretically a movie about Glass, and he even narrates it through a framing device that ultimately is shown to be a sham, like most of his stories. But it’s really Chuck Lane’s film. Glass doesn’t change, we don’t see much of his feelings, only what everyone else feels about him–he’s a static character. Lane is the only character that is more than one-dimensional. Chloe Sevigny and Melanie Lynskey are almost wasted as little more than Glass groupies, and even Steve Zahn as the reporter who finally exposes Glass gets little screen time. Rosario Dawson pops up and seems like she’ll have a bigger role, but then fades out.
Christensen is very good as Glass, but you have to wonder that people didn’t see through him sooner if he was half as obvious as he is in the film. Sarsgaard is very good as well, and it’s unclear why everyone despises his character. In the end, the story suffers from a lack of humanity. Everyone is seen through someone else’s eyes, and there’s no one character to identify with.