25 May, 2010

Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)

'We will not walk in fear of one another'

Winner of European Film Academy Non-European Film 2005 - Prix Screen International (George Clooney).

It was round about this time, 2005, that George Clooney really began to prove what he could achieve, both as an actor, director and, in the case of Good Night, and Good Luck., both at the same time.

The year also saw the release of Stephen Gaghan's Syriana, one of the most complex, intelligent and unforgiving examinations of the oil industry, in which Clooney delivered a performance that was brilliantly at odds with any of his previous screen personna and, while his interpretation of 1950 CBS producer Fred Friendly in Good Night, and Good Luck. may have the charm and swagger more traditionally associated with a Clooney interpretation, there is no doubting the sincerity of his direction, nor his excellent complementing of anchorman Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn), in this charged, thrilling account of the men who took on McCarthy.

And that would be Senator Joseph McCarthy who, as head of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the early 1950s, fed on the fear and rampant paranoia associated with the rise of Communism - Friendly and Murrow decide to take him on, examine his inconsistencies and make a televised stand for the rights of the individual to be individual. A crusade that is set to bring heavy costs, both financial and emotional...

Rarely has a time and place been so strongly evoked - as written by Clooney and Grant Heslov and remarkably well performed by Strathairn, this transports us to a time in the 'Land of the Free' that was horrifyingly at odds with the country's moniker.

Stathairn, who really should have taken the 2005 Oscar for his portrayal, ahead even of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who won it for Bennett Miller's Capote (2005) forms the perfect foil to McCarthy's bluster and excesses, which are conveyed only via original news footage and the interview response that Murrow and Friendly allow the Senator to give. An utterly measured performance that hints at fury beneath, Strathairn is simply smoking.

A privileged insight into the US of yesterday, or would that be today? You decide.

Awards: For details, click here.

93 mins. In black and white.

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