Trumbo

(M) Bryan Cranston, Helen Mirren, Diane Lane

Trumbo is a biopic that follows the life of multiple Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. The film begins during the persecution and blacklisting of Hollywood communists, and follows Trumbo’s fall and rise back to fame from the 1940s through to the 1970s. Jay Roach, who has directed films such as Dinner for Schmucks and Meet The Parents, has taken advantage of an incredible cast to create a film that feels less biographic, and more an entrancing story of Hollywood manipulation, politics and family.

Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) is one of Hollywood’s most talented (and well-paid) screenwriters. He is also a communist. Trumbo is set against the rise of the Soviet Union after World War II, when anti-communist paranoia is rife throughout society. A task force is created to track down and arrest America’s greatest “traitors”. Hollywood was a particular target, with accusations thrown around, and the accused dragged before Congress for sentencing (even though no crime had been committed). When Trumbo is tried and jailed, he emerges years later to face the infamous “Blacklist”. Banned from working in the world where he was once king, he must find a way to continue the work he loves … without being caught.

Trumbo combines the best of both worlds which are usually at opposing sides when it comes to true-story historical dramas. Roach’s film manages to educate, as well as inspire. For those who didn’t live through the 1950s, it’s hard to believe what transpired in a Western democracy. Trumbo’s ideology is only touched on quickly, and the trial of the Hollywood Ten (Trumbo’s alleged group of communists in Hollywood) happens early in the film. Instead, Trumbo focuses on his rise out of the Blacklist, during the years to come. By brushing over the underlying political motivations, some of the characters seem one-sided, particularly the villains. Hedda Hoppa (Helen Mirren) is infuriating, annoying and one-dimensional as the leader of Hollywood’s witch hunt. That said, the timeline of the film is immense (30 years!) and director Jay Roach does an excellent job in telling the story. By focusing less on the sentencing and trial of the Hollywood Ten, Roach gives Trumbo a story of hope and redemption, rather than following him through the worst days of his life.

Throughout Trumbo, the absolute highlight is that powerhouse actor Bryan Cranston. Having graced our screens for six years on the Emmy Award Winning series Breaking Bad (not nearly long enough, if you ask me), Cranston finally has the big-screen role he deserves. Cranston is a giant among modern actors, and was deservingly nominated for Best Actor for his role. He brilliantly plays role of a curt politically unapologetic man, who is rough around the edges and loyal till death.

Directors have tried in the past to re-tell the trials and tribulations of 1950s McCarthyism, like Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) with George Clooney and Guilt by Suspicion (1991) with Robert DeNiro. None though, have found their stride quite like Trumbo. The entire film is enjoyable and fascinating, and the memory of Dalton Trumbo and has been truly honoured.

Looking Deeper

What does the Bible say about judging others? James 4:12

What does the Bible say about persecution? 2 Corinthians 12:10

Toya Gattas

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