Nothing But the Truth ***
Directed by Rod Lurie
Written by Rod Lurie
Kate Beckinsale as Rachel Armstrong
Matt Dillon as Patton Dubois
Angela Bassett as Bonnie Benjamin
Alan Alda as Alan Burnside
Vera Farmiga as Erica Van Doren
David Schwimmer as Ray Armstrong
Noah Wyle as Avril Aronson
Rated R for language, some sexual material and a scene of violence.
The bankruptcy of Yari Film Group may prove to be the most tragic thing that could happen to Kate Beckinsale, who gained strong momentum earlier in the year with the great "Snow Angels" and then gained even more favorable reviews with this film. But with no money from the studio backing it up, and with no advertisement, and a release in two theaters that lasted a week, Beckinsale's award chances spiraled down to a meek nothingness, and "Nothing But the Truth" has become a film that literally nobody has heard of. And the shame of it all is that it really is a good film. "Nothing But the Truth" is the second film by Rod Lurie, the first being "Resurrecting the Champ," which deals with the ethics that are upheld by members of the media. It is both entertaining and offers several thought provoking concepts of ethics and business, all revolved around the actions of its main character, played very strongly by Kate Beckinsale.
Beckinsale plays Rachel Armstrong, a journalist who has a earth shattering story that will change the current situation involving a political scandal. The story also reveals the truth about Erica Van Doren, a soccer mother who also happens to be a CIA agent, a fact that would change her life forever. Rachel publishes the story, and when the United States government gets involved because it revealed the truth about a government agent, they demand that Rachel give out the truth of her source. Rachel refuses, stating that it goes against her entire vow of getting into journalism. Despite the help of lawyer Alan Burnside, and the constant probing of Patton Dubois, who was appointed by the government to be in charge of the case, Rachel is put into prison, a sentence that lasts for well over a year, having her lose the close bond between her and her young son, and her husband Ray who begins to drift away quite early.
The effectiveness of "Nothing But the Truth" is quite evident through its ability to make one mad. I was uncomfortable watching this film, and Lurie makes it easy to do with his intense use of close-ups and the grainy visuals that accompany Rachel's entire sentence. The cast boasts strong performance, not only from Beckinsale who really gets to sink her teeth into an overall good person in an emotionally draining situation, but also from Vera Farmiga, as Erica, whose life changes at the drop of a hat, and Alan Alda, who brings a nice amount of comic relief as the always certain lawyer on Rachel's side. Lurie shoots some of Alda's scenes in an interesting way, often letting the camera awkwardly linger as it seems like Alda is improvising some of his lines. It's an odd choice, and sometimes takes away from the more intense moments scattered throughout.
As I mentioned, it plays as a good companion piece to Rod Lurie's own "Resurrecting the Champ" from last year, as both films deal with the ethics of journalism, as the former film deals with a man who does a very large piece on a boxer who may not be what he seems. Both characters struggle with the conflict, debating back and forth with themselves on how their revelation will benefit them and their loved ones. Beckinsale holds up very strong as this woman who slowly looses everything around her all for her beliefs. Lurie strays away from certain scenes that would have cheapened the overall effect, and the worst scene he does is a prison fight sequence that seems to come from something out of a soft core pornography film instead of an actual serious drama. But the small nitpicks that could easily be made throughout the film end up redeeming themselves after the final scene, which packs quite an impressive and unexpected twist, concluding the subplot revolving around her unknown source in a very interesting way. It is the icing on the top of the cake for the type of character that Rachel is, and it ended the film on quite a high note, and one of strong contentment as I left the theatre.
"Nothing But the Truth" is the kind of film that nobody gets to see in the theatre, be it for tragic reasons such as bankruptcy or lack of advertisement, or just because the theatres are far too packed to sustain it. But it is a good film, and a moral tapestry with strong work by Kate Beckinsale, who after "Snow Angels" is really proving her depth as an actress. This is not close to being one of the best films of the year, but it is certainly one that deserves to gain the mention that it deserved, and that it was expected to get before the unfortunate facts of Chapter Eleven.