|State of Play
Starring Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck, and Helen Mirren
State of Play asks fascinating questions about whom and what the news media serve. Major corporations own plenty of daily metropolitan newspapers and those corporations answer to stockholders. Many of those stockholders, in turn, run the companies that make the news. So is it truth above all or truth above all but a few? The 21st century brings new issues into the news room with the sometimes uncomfortable marriage between traditional investigative journalism and an online headline-chomping animal that operates in the statusphere.Both of these concerns fire State of Play out of the gate like a can’t-miss thoroughbred; it’s immediately smarter than most of its contemporaries and the dialogue between Washington Globe newsroom vet Cal McCaffery (Russell Crowe) and his online adversary, the fresh-faced Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), bleeds sarcasm and grit. But the film stops paying attention to its central characters and shifts to the story they’re covering, a possible murder and cover-up inside the Beltway involving a senator (Ben Affleck) who goes way back with McCaffrey. And if there are questions about whether or not the news is too subservient to the companies pulling the strings, surely questions will arise about how far a reporter might go to protect a powerful friend.