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  Publicity Stills of
"State of Play"
(Courtesy of UIP)

Director: Kevin Macdonald
Cast: Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn, Jason Bateman, Jeff Daniels, Helen Mirren
RunTime: 2 hrs 7 mins
Released By: UIP
Rating: PG
(Some Violence and Sexual References)
Official Website: http://www.stateofplaymovie.net/

Opening Day: 4 June 2009


Oscar® winner Russell Crowe leads an all-star cast in a blistering thriller about a rising congressman and an investigative journalist embroiled in a case of seemingly unrelated, brutal murders. Crowe plays D.C. reporter Cal McAffrey, whose street smarts lead him to untangle a mystery of murder and collusion among some of the nation's most promising political and corporate figures in "State of Play," from acclaimed director Kevin Macdonald ("The Last King of Scotland").

Handsome, unflappable U.S. Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) is the future of his political party: an honorable appointee who serves as the chairman of a committee overseeing defense spending. All eyes are upon the rising star to be his party's contender for the upcoming presidential race. Until his research assistant/mistress is brutally murdered and buried secrets come tumbling out.

McAffrey has the dubious fortune of both an old friendship with Collins and a ruthless editor, Cameron (Oscar® winner Helen Mirren), who has assigned him to investigate. As he and partner Della (Rachel McAdams) try to uncover the killer's identity, McAffrey steps into a cover-up that threatens to shake the nation's power structures. And in a town of spin-doctors and wealthy politicos, he will discover one truth: when billions are at stake, no one's integrity, love or life is ever safe.

Movie Review:

This reviewer fondly remembers the days he dabbled in journalism, the days which objectivity and truth seeking meant the world to him. There’s also a reason why he isn’t a full time journalist now – because these values, while ideal, isn’t the most practical when you step into the real world. While he still believes that there are these academic notions are fundamental in keeping the public informed of what they need to know, he has realised that they can only be found in movie screenplays, and in a political thriller like this one helmed by Scottish director Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September, The Last King of Scotland), you can bet these values are aplenty for after viewing discussions.

Based on Paul Abbott’s 2003 BBC TV series of the same name, the plot isn’t the easiest to put on paper. It begins with a petty thief being murdered in an alley and a Congressman’s assistant falling off to her death in a subway. Two seemingly unrelated deaths? Unlikely. This is a job for the no bars held newspaper reporter Cal McAffrey, who believes that there is a political conspiracy waiting to be exposed. With the help of a rookie journalist Della Frye who is equally unrelenting in her determination to uncover the truth, they inch closer to the truth despite obstructions in the form of corporate cover ups, insiders, informants and assassins. Will McAffrey’s friendship with the Congressman get in the way of things? Will Frye’s fresh take on things help to objectify the story? Will they make it in time for the newspaper to go for print?

The 127 minute movie paces itself excellently and never loses focus on its plot. The numerous characters in the movie are all given substantial development and you’ll end up empathizing with each and every one of them. From the handsome Congressman to his long suffering wife and his capable lover, from the anonymous informant to the PR agent, from the veteran journalist to his young aide and the pesky editor, you’d be able to identify with their traits and personalities, thanks to the crisp approach taken by the acclaimed director.

You also can’t help but notice the star studded cast. Academy winners Russell Crowe (the brash journalist), Ben Affleck (the shady Congressman) and Helen Mirren (the hot headed editor) effortlessly bring their roles to life. They are joined by Rachel McAdams (the new reporter on the job), Robin Wright Penn (the betrayed wife), Jason Bateman (a scene stealing performance as the PR agent) and Jeff Daniels (an underrated but powerful performance as a politician), who make this engaging movie a must watch.

The hasty cinematography and the punchy editing do justice to the movie’s content, and you won’t be taking your eyes off the screen because you would not know the truth until the last minute. Some may regard this as gimmicky, considering how there seems to be twist every time the movie seemed to have reached its finale, but they do not come off as contrived or manufactured, largely thanks to the winning performance of the entire cast.

The well executed movie gives the viewers many opportunities to ponder about notions of objectivity and truth seeking in the world of journalism. In the ever evolving world of new media, how does the good old method of chasing stories fit in? When the film credits roll with footage of newspapers being printed, you’d also think about how stories you read everyday may have gone through so much of drama, and whether it’s the truth you are reading – that’s another issue altogether.

Movie Rating:

(A fine and taut thriller drama that boasts of engaging performances and thought provoking messages)

Review by John Li


. Body Of Lies (2008)

. A Mighty Heart (2008)

. American Gangster (2007)

. The Hunting Party (2007)

. Lions For Lambs (2007)

. Rendition (2007)

. The Kingdom (2007)

. Blood Diamond (2006)

. The Last King of Scotland (2006)

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