“Truth” is a big story about how a big story falls apart. It’s a newsroom drama about the practice of journalism, its relationship with politics, how information is received today and the role big business plays in the handling of stories.

If it sounds like a nerdy journalism tell-all, well, it is. But it is told in a lively, vital manner and shows why the nitpicking of journalism matters and how the field’s role is being affected by today’s shifting online landscape.

“Truth” centers on a 2004 “60 Minutes II” piece that questioned George W. Bush’s military service, based on several records alleging he received preferred treatment from Texas’ Air National Guard. Cate Blanchett plays Mary Mapes, the segment producer who was fired over the alleged inaccuracies in the report, and Robert Redford is CBS anchor Dan Rather, whose role in the segment played a major part in his dismissal from the network two years later.

The truth in “Truth” has been questioned by CBS, which refused to run ads for the film. The screenplay is based on Mapes’ 2005 memoir, but it doesn’t always present her in the most flattering light, and the film acknowledges the flaws in the story’s reporting while asking bigger questions about its underlying accuracy.

Those issues aside, “Truth” is a fiery, first-rate film with a dogged central performance by a blazing Blanchett. Redford, too, is rock solid, even as the film makes the daring choice to have him resemble Rather in neither look nor voice.

Ultimately, some of the answers in “Truth” are unsatisfying, but it asks important questions, which is one of journalism’s chief responsibilities.



Rated R: for language and a brief nude photo

Running time: 121 minutes

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