Directed by Jay Roach
The American screenwriter and novelist, Dalton Trumbo, is heartily characterized in this biographical political drama, shot under the direction of Jay Roach, whose career indicates the Austin Powers film series as highlights.
John McNamara wrote the script, an adaptation of the 1977 biography ‘Dalton Trumbo’ by Bruce Cook. By giving a flawless performance, Bryan Cranston makes the most of the opportunity to represent the title character with accuracy, helping to minimize the setbacks of Mr. Roach’s facetious approach, which obviously influenced the final product.
Unfairly accused of conspiring against the country just for declaring himself a staunch communist enlisted in the American Communist Party, the radical and yet inoffensive, Trumbo, is not only put to public shame by the Un-American Activities Committee but also arrested and blacklisted. Fearless, he starts a clandestine campaign to show how perfidious the government acts, doing everything in a calculative, patient way to have his name cleared. With this objective in mind, Trumbo counts on a group of loyal screenwriters and uses his fabulous wife and children as personal staff when he comes up with the idea of working at home, writing and fixing scripts under multiple pseudonyms for the cheap King Brothers Productions.
In a later phase, finally willing to hold in his hands the two deserved Oscars he had won but could never touch, he gets full credit for the brilliant screenplays of “Spartacus” and “Exodus”, publicly announced by Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger, respectively. From all his opponents, a special mention goes to the cynical 35-million-reader columnist, Hedda Hopper, magnificently performed by Helen Mirren.
The film starts vivaciously engaging, loses intensity in its uneven middle part, just to return in big for the ending. Trumbo’s genius didn’t have a genius treatment here. Still, we can seize the nature, temper, and resolution of a man who deserves all our respect.