banner image

:: Shattered Glass

One of the sacrilegious sins a journalist could do is to fabricate their stories. Shattered Glass is based on the exploits of real-life journalist, Stephen Glass, whose fertile imagination and persuasive charm fooled his editors and colleagues at The New Republic into believing the star reporter that he was. First-time director Billy Ray cares not so much about the motivations behind Glass’ behaviour, rather he is more interested in showing that the liberal idealism espoused by The New Republic engendered an all-too-trusting nature in its staff.

The writers and editors of The New Republic naively believed that anyone accepted to write for the magazine, apart from being exceptionally good, ascribed to high journalistic standards and shared the same political beliefs. In their idealism, the editorial team failed to see through the incredulity of Glass’ stories, and worse still was lax in fact checking. It did not help that office politics only increased their myopia.

Hayden Christensen plays Stephen Glass with ingratiating annoyance. Garbed in preppy business shirts, chinos, neatly coffered hair with equally nerdy round-framed glasses to match. He charms co-workers with coffee and doughnuts when they are swamped with work, and never fails to flatter his secretary on her hairdo and clothes. Co-editor, Caitlin Avey (Chloe Sevigny) becomes his number one dupe. Glass’ charade is a welcome relief to the Republic’s editorial team. Writer Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) had been promoted to editor and the staff are still resentful of the sacking of the previous but well-liked editor, Michael Kelly (Hank Azaria).

Mindful of staff sentiment, Lane is unable to bring Glass under scrutiny until an online magazine exposes Glass’ shenanigans. From this point, the performance of Lane (Sarsgaard), changes gear and matches up to Christensen’s masterful delivery of the puppy dog look, blinking eyes and “Are you mad at me?” cries. Sarsgaard’s honest conviction and quiet demeanour is perfect foil to Christensen’s deceitful character.

“Shattered Glass” has the feel of a small budget independent film with great attention paid to sets and characters, helped by good supporting acts from Sevigny, Steve Zahn and Rosario Dawson. It is an impressive directorial debut from Billy Ray. Its cautionary tale and compelling drama makes it highly watchable.