|“State of Play” perfect for a rent on a rainy day|
|Written by Brandon James Smith, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Wednesday, 30 September 2009 22:45|
Like a modern day film noir, “State of Play,” offers a suspenseful tale of mystery and scandal with powerful performances from Ben Affleck and Russell Crowe.
Crowe usually picks his film roles wisely and “State of Play” is no variant. I am convinced the hot-tempered, Australian-born actor has a keen eye for smart scripts. With classic films such as “Gladiator,” “A Beautiful Mind” and “3:10 to Yuma” under his belt, he has built an impressive resume.
Affleck, on the other hand, usually does the opposite and makes poor film choices. I have always felt that Ben Affleck is simultaneously underrated and overrated. Whenever he tries his hand at action in films such as “Paycheck” and “Daredevil,” it usually turns out laughable. He also starred in “Gigli,” which has been described as one of the worst films of all time.
Of course, Affleck is still an Oscar winner for co-writing “Good Will Hunting” with Matt Damon. The actor also impressed critics with his directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone,” which was highly acclaimed. Occasionally, there are times that he will show the audience he actually can act, and he does so in this movie.
Affleck plays Congressman Stephen Collins, a popular politician whose stock rises each day. His reputation takes a hit though, when it is revealed that a recent suicide victim was Collins mistress. The woman, Sonia Baker, worked for Collins and apparently distraught over their affair, threw herself in front of a subway train.
Also in Washington is journalist Cal McAffrey, portrayed superbly by Crowe. McAffrey works for the “Washington Globe” and it is hinted at that he is a living legend among fellow reporters. It is also revealed that McAffrey and Collins were roommates in college.
Collins is extremely upset over the death of his mistress and has to face his wife, reporters and fellow politicians. Not knowing what to do, he turns to Cal. In the first of many twists, Collins shows him an upbeat voicemail Sonia left him the day she died.
“Does that sound like someone whose about to commit suicide,” Collins asks McAffrey. From there the rabbit hole keeps getting deeper as Cal investigates further into Sonia’s death acting as a reporter, detective and concerned friend.
Rachel McAdams plays a blogger who also works for the “Washington Globe” and comes up with some startling theories of her own. She talks to Cal but at first he will not give her the time of day since he believes his reporting is actual art and blogging is a disgrace. Eventually, he realizes how intelligent she is and respects her abilities as a journalist. He also realizes that in order to solve the mystery, he needs her.
Overall, it was great fun to watch Crowe and McAdams chase down sources, ask tough questions and put their lives in danger. The cast is impressive with everyone giving above average performances.
Along with Crowe, Affleck and McAdams, Robin Wright Penn has an important supporting role as does Helen Mirren.
Mirren plays Crowe’s editor and displays a great deal of charm while stealing every scene she is in.
Besides being a suspenseful story, the film also raises some very interesting questions of ethics and objectivity in journalism.
The film is thoroughly entertaining and the special features on the DVD are adequate enough for this type of film. There are a few deleted scenes that are not particularly interesting but there is a making-of-documentary with interviews from the cast and crew. Any film fan or journalist will find the documentary fascinating and rewarding.