Based on true events, Trumbo tells the story of 1940s Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, whose successful career is ruined when he is accused of being a Communist and subsequently blacklisted.
The film stars Diane Lane and Elle Fanning as Trumbo’s wife and daughter; Helen Mirren as infamous tabloid writer Hedda Hooper, and John Goodman as Frank King, one of the B-movie independents, who continues to employ Trumbo work when he is refused by the establishment.
After having just signed a deal with MGM making him the world’s highest paid screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo risked it all to protect his first amendment rights. Cranston doesn't fail to deliver a nuanced performance as the fascinating yet controversial Old Hollywood figure, convincingly combining the screenwriter's unwavering sense of political rights with the wit that made him such an admired figure.
Each line is delivered so weightily that fellow blacklister, Arlen (played by comedian Louis C.K.) chides him for talking as if everything he say "is going to be chiselled into stone.”
Yet, though its performances are polished, Trumbo's fault is in honing too narrowly on Trumbo’s personal and private struggles, at the loss of wider context, and repercussions.
Rather than delve into the depth of work that went into Trumbo's creations, and the dark political picture in which his struggles were set, the film elides over the complex ideological divides. It also fails to mention critical personal and public milestones, instead offering unnecessarily lengthy explanations to the audience of what a communist is ("Would you share your lunch with your friend?" is the analogy Trumbo gives his daughter) or why he decides to change the name of a rushed script to Roman Holiday.
As a celebration of the resilience of a man who held tightly to his fundamental rights, Trumbo is a lively tribute to the Hollywood screenwriter. But given the harsh political context in which the film is set (Trumbo only received recognition for Roman Holiday in 2011, over 50 years after it was written) perhaps, in classic Hollywood style, it all seems rather too glossy.
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|What||Trumbo film review|
|Where||Odeon Leicester Square, 24-26 Leicester Square, London, WC2H 7LQ | MAP|
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05 Feb 16 – 30 Apr 16, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
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