You can make a quality film about any subject, but sometimes one has to wonder whether it was worth it.
That’s the fundamental problem undercutting “Truth,” writer-director James Vanderbilt’s otherwise accomplished depiction of the development of and fallout from the discredited Killian documents report on “60 Minutes” in 2004, that cost Dan Rather his job.
The movie stars Cate Blanchett as producer Mary Mapes and Robert Redford as Rather, and it is unquestionably attuned to a truism that has undercut investigative journalism dramatically: the obstacles posed by powerful interests are even more inherent when they’re supported by corporate money.
It’s just pretty strange to make a movie out of Mapes’ book about the experience; this was pretty clearly a journalistic failure, filled with apparent short cuts amid a rush to get on the air. Certainly, there might have been other sinister influences at play. Perhaps, Mapes and Rather were treated unfairly, as they’ve maintained. But the fundamental truth seems pretty inexorable, and the filmmaker goes to such great lengths to excuse and explain it away that the movie starts to play less like a docudrama than revisionist history.
There are some notable moments — Blanchett is terrific as usual, filled Mapes with psychological depth, and the return of Redford, an icon of journalism movies, to a film about the profession is significant. But you can’t shake the sense that a thorough accounting of the facts here would be more interesting than a dramatized whitewashing.