Sunday, April 26, 2009
State of Play
Yes! A film that keeps you guessing from start to finish with exceptional dialogue and superb acting...what more could you ask for? State of Play displayed Hollywood excellence on every level. One of the best thriller films I have seen in quite a while.
Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) is a reported for a major Washington newspaper. McAffrey has a somewhat unholy alliance with Pennsylvania Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck). When Collines needs press coverage, Cal (his college roommate), can be counted on to drum up support at the paper. When Collins finds himself in the middle of a major investigation into a defense contractor, some of his indiscretions become public. McAffrey finds himself covering a breaking story on an old friend...finding middle ground between personal loyalty and professional integrity.
The plot is not as straightforward as two friends who find themselves in a politically sticky situation based no their respective careers. There are several sub-plots to explore which intentionally create hazy areas in the underlying investigation. As McAffrey peels back the layers, he is drawn deeper and deeper into an epic saga of betrayal and greed. The twists and turns continually managed to keep me off balance in spite of some evident foreshadowing.
State of Play was adapted from a television series written by Paul Abbott. The closing credits indicated the series to be a BBC series, so I am uncertain if the series took place in Washington or in London. The show was adapted to the big screen by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray. These three writers are tremendous talents that have combined to bring us numerous political thrillers as well as other genres. Starting with an all-star team of writers was exactly the right move for this film. An awesome group that displayed their talents throughout this film.
State of Play demonstrates the exceptional skill of these writers through intricate character development, which provides each of the major characters a varied set of personal traits that make them all likable, but flawed in a way that cannot be overlooked. The character flaws allowed viewers to be suspicious of everyone, while still feeling connected to the characters. A delicate balancing act seemingly handled with ease. The dialogue was also rich. Providing cues without always giving all of the details. The dialogue further enhanced the suspense by trickling information to the audience or allowing viewers to form their own opinions about the characters. The plot was carefully constructed to string viewers along through plot twists and careening curves. The writing could not have been better.
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