WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
First, the Recap:
Post-World War II America, needless to say, became a much more interesting place when Communism and its socialist ideals became a part of this country’s culture. It’s 1947, and thanks to many who were fed up with the current government, the CPUSA and its members lobbied freely for their beliefs until the Cold War era entered into the picture, suddenly dealing a heavy hand and casting an overtly cautious eye onto any claiming its political stance. One such individual caught up in the new scrutiny is top Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston). Targeted along with other industry writers and actors supporting the Communist manifesto, as well as outspokenly striving for worker’s rights, Trumbo gets blacklisted and shunned by the studios.
Refusing to go down or simply disappear, and bolstered by the realization of the sheer irrationality, undue bias, and unfairness being placed on himself, fellow industry professionals, and his own family, Trumbo gathers those willing and continues to write material for B-movie mogul Frank King (John Goodman) but also manages to sneak in multiple screenplays that go on to win Oscars. Still barely getting by, constantly in the crosshairs of gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) and even John Wayne (David James Elliott), Trumbo overcomes the odds and pulls out one last snafu thanks to a friendship with actor Kirk Douglas (Dean O’Gorman), who proposes Trumbo write the screenplay to a film Douglas is booked to star in. With this move, Trumbo makes the final push to get all the injustices against him and his fellow Hollywood friends done away with.
Next, my Mind:
Director Jay Roach’s film is one that might have been able to be an accomplished, yet still full, telling of Trumbo’s story in perhaps just a little less than its two hour four minute runtime, only from the standpoint that this is truly a slow burn. Character development is integral here, and establishing all the factors involved with what occurred and how it was handled by Trumbo and his associates is most certainly fleshed out. But when we as the viewer are ideally looking to get to the main payoff, some might find the road getting there to be a bit tedious and even dry.
The writing here is spot on, however, cleverly catching the sharp wit, persistence, and flat-out stubbornness of Trumbo and his war against the unfair treatment he believed was perpetrated against him and fellow Hollywood people. Cranston milks every moment in every scene he’s in as Trumbo, creating a person that we mostly root for, yet sometimes actually dislike. But, we taste his victories and defeats with equal commitment. A stellar supporting cast including Mirren, Goodman, Elliott, Elle Fanning, Diane Lane, Louis C.K., Alan Tudyk, and several others aids in the film’s pacing, but again, it simply felt just a hair too long.
The historical narrative here does keep one curious, and as indicated above, the performances are top notch as one would expect from the line-up of actors. Heavy on language mainly, “Trumbo” will still be a test of patience for some, a wonderful work of indie film art for others, and like for this reviewer, perhaps end up somewhere in between.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!