The real world events that screenwriter/director Rod Lurie ( The Last Castle, The Contender ) uses as the loose context for Nothing But The Truth are used loosely, indeed. Though these events will be recognizable to those who’ve followed the machinations of national politics for the last seven or so years, upon closer inspection, the detail oriented will note that in actual fact, the film’s content has little in common with the actual events of the day. Nevertheless, we will (for the most part) leave those inclined to sort the comparisons for themselves. The movie follows the events surrounding a Washington D.C. based print reporter’s White House expose’, and its outing of an undercover CIA agent. Though Nothing But The Truth is fundamentally an independent undertaking, it boasts a star cast including Kate Beckinsale, Angela Basset, Matt Dillon and Alan Alda among others who provide the kind of performances for which the majors pay big bucks. That said, the marketing dollars here are not major studio level, which will limit box office returns unless word of potential nominations (which are possible, if not likely) translates into actual nominations—which may increase prospects for returns as the very political award season gets underway.
In the film (and not the real life events) Rachel Armstrong (Beckinsale) pens a story that reveals the identity of Erica Van Doren (Vera Farmiga) as a CIA analyst. Which, as noted by the astute Mr. Lurie (a West Point grad, former film critic and political junky), is not itself illegal. His female protagonist, a stalwart reporter who dots the “i”s, crosses the “t”s and believes in things like the First Amendment and the “privilege of the press,” nevertheless finds herself behind bars when an equally stalwart Special Prosecutor, Patton Dubois (Dillon), insists she reveal her source. All of this happens early on and thus for much of the film the lovely Ms. Beckinsale is in the slammer wearing an jump suit with no noticeable makeup. Meanwhile, the audience is taken through a maze of legal, professional and personal arguments over not only the actions of the government in jailing Rachel for protecting her source, but also her actions in revealing the identity of the undercover agent. Was that the right thing to do? She chose not to reveal her source on patriotic terms, not presuming the rat is a traitor and should be ratted on. Ultimately, her choice not to reveal her source and the resulting jail time put a great stress on her family. Husband, David Schwimmer, and their very young son are bereft and distraught by the circumstances and her absence.
In light of its juxtaposition to the actual events of the day, and despite the fact that none of those events actually appear in Nothing but the Truth, cinematic treatment of the issues seems not only worthy, but also necessary. Most people who know about the events of Watergate are usually reciting from the notable Alan J. Pakula film, rather than the nationally televised hearings that described the same events without the involvement of Dustin Hoffman or Robert Redford.
The bits of Nothing But The Truth that are all movie and those that are reflective of real people, places and events notwithstanding. The movie—which is just a movie—works both as entertainment for those who have not been paying attention, and as a refraction of those people, places and events for those who have.
Yari Film Group
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Vera Farmiga, Alan Alda, Angela Bassett, Matt Dillon, David Schwimmer and Noah Wyle
Director/Screenwriter: Rod Lurie
Producers: Bob Yari, Marc Frydman and Rod Lurie
Rating: Rated R for language, some sexual material and a scene of violence.
Running time: 107 min.
Release date: Dec 19 Academy Run