TRUMBO Review — Write On, Bryan Cranston!

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Trumbo ReviewUnless you’re a committed cinephile, the odd-sounding name “Trumbo” may not ring any bells, and you might not be inclined to rush out and see this extraordinary film. But don’t let the title fool you, Trumbo is not only an inspiring civics lesson that everyone should learn, but a tour de force for Bryan Cranston, Louis C.K., Michael Stuhlbarg and the rest of the stellar cast.

To give you some background, Dalton Trumbo was one of Hollywood’s top screenwriters, with Kitty Foyle, A Guy Named Joe, Roman Holiday and many other classics to his credit. He also believed in the rights of the worker and advocated for union organization. Yes, he freely admitted to being a communist, and while the Cold War made that political persuasion unpopular, it wasn’t illegal…or so you’d think.

Trumbo was not only blacklisted and kept from writing, but he was imprisoned for his beliefs in a particularly dark period of U.S. history. Yet he maintained his dignity, and found a way to continue his work — which eventually resulted in writing some of the most memorable movies of the 20th Century.

Trumbo, as played remarkably by Cranston, was not only a strong-principaled family man, but an eloquent and witty leader. The naked vulnerability Cranston shows while being admitted to prison is nothing less than award-worthy–it’s a scene that tears at your soul, and is not soon forgotten. But he’s supported by a well-written cast that includes Diane Lane as his wife, Elle Fanning as his daughter, Louis C.K. as a fellow writer, Michael Stuhlbarg as Edward G. Robinson, John Goodman as a producer and the radiant Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper, who is made out to be quite the despicable villain.

Now as any good screenwriter will tell you, it’s hard to create a sustainable dramatic arc when telling a story in a linear fashion, which is exactly what producer/screenwriter John McNamara, whose credits are few, chose to do. I think a film about Dalton Trumbo deserves a more creative treatment. But director Jay Roach (the Austin Powers movies, the Meet the Parents franchise and Recount, to name a few), keeps the film moving and interesting despite the awkward storyline.

I’m thinking Trumbo will make it onto my 2015 Top Ten List. It’s definitely a film everyone who loves movies, or loves civil rights, should see.

Rated R

2 Hours 40 Minutes

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TRUMBO Review — Write On, Bryan Cranston!



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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Nessa White on October 25, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    I agree – great movie.
    Bryan Cranston and Diane Lane were amazing and both Oscar worthy!

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