Fed up with being famous for his chin, George Clooney sidestepped into the world of directing for this 2005 drama, based on historical fact.
Starring Jeff Daniels, David Strathairn, Alex Borstien, Patricia Clarkson, Robert Downey Jr and of course, Clooney himself, it is the story of how, while the US was in the grip of cold war paranoia and one Senator McCarthy wielded a misplaced and considerable power, CBS reporter Ed Munrow decided to make a stand against what he perceived as an extreme approach to government and do whatever they can to expose and eventually topple the corrupt parliamentarian.
Clooney has clearly put a lot of thought into this movie and directs brilliantly, really playing up the personal conflicts, the freedoms of liberty at stake and the personal cost suffered by Morrow and his producer in taking on such a powerful and high profile figure. Crucially, he does not take the easy route in portraying McCarthy as the monster which he is so often depicted as, but opts for a more realistic approach, never disguising the senator’s many failings but allowing him to become human. A flawed individual but not a caricature. Strathairn gives a career defining performance that really should have won an Oscar as Morrow and is the standout star of the movie, but Clooney himself is also excellent as Fred Friendly. Frank Langella, Ray Wise and Jeff Daniels also excel and the performances really hold together a well written and thoughtful script, dramatic, compelling and very human in its tone.
Clooney’s directing choices are well made, he shoots in black and white for a start, giving the film an authentically 50s documentary feel which brings the viewer right into the period and the action straight away. The cinematography by Robert Elswit is stark and equally journalistic and there are some excellent punctuations in which a jazz singer gives his version of popular songs of the day which help to act as a buffer between acts and give the whole movie a strange feel of being a TV broadcast of the time. Nostalgic, inventive and clever, this film is an absolute must see.
Compelling and powerful.
Director: George Clooney
Writers: George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Stars: David Strathairn, George Clooney, Patricia Clarkson