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Customer Review

This is a superb directorial debut by Billy Ray, who also wrote the script for this engrossing film. It tells the true story of how one journalist, Stephen Glass (Hayden Christiansen), a star journalist for the self-styled, in-flight magazine for Air Force One, "The New Republic", bamboozled his editors for years with bogus stories. This was to have a devastating impact on a magazine that was well-respected in the political community.
The film is a riveting study of a pathological liar who had the need to be the center of attention. For years, Stephen Glass had regaled his colleagues with journalistic feats, only to have them eventually discover that they were mere mumbo jumbo, as few of them had little more than a grain of truth to them. Stephen Glass is portrayed as a slightly obnoxious, self-deprecating character, who binds his colleagues to him through his smarmy, somewhat ingratiating. personality.
Michael Kelly (Hank Azaria) is the first editor of "The New Republic" with whom Stephen Glass worked. When Kelly finds something questionable in one of the stories submitted by Glass, Stephen is able to explain it away, and the incident is glossed over. When Kelly is fired by the publisher, Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) takes over under difficult circumstances, as the staff is loyal to Kelly and resentful of Lane. Still, Lane perseveres, occasionally crossing swords with Stephen Glass.
All comes to a head when a reporter from another publication questions the veracity of one of Stephen's stories. An inside investigation by an anguished and angry Chuck Lane clearly shows that Stephen's story is not fact based but, rather, an elaborate deceit, false from beginning to end. Stephen's journalistic house of cards comes tumbling down around him, rocking the integrity of The New Republic. Chuck Lane is placed in the difficult position of exposing the full breadth of Stephen's journalistic perfidy, which ended up being widespread.
The cast of the film is excellent overall, though I did find that Hayden Christiansen's portrayal of Stephen Glass paints him as too obvious a liar. I found it a tad difficult to believe that his colleagues gave him as much credence as they did. Chloe Sevigny contributes a fine performance as fellow journalist, Caitlin Avey, who was one of Stephen's bamboozled friends.
Hank Azaria gives a fine portrayal of popular editor Michael Kelly, which shows that he can handle serious dramatic roles as adeptly as he handles comedic ones. The stand out performance, however, is that of Peter Sarsgaard, whose understated, poignant portrayal of Kelly's replacement, the beleaguered, unpopular Chuck Lane, is sensitive yet very powerful and complex.
The DVD has first class audio and visuals, as well as an excellent audio commentary by both the director and Chuck Lane. It also has a must see 60 Minutes interview with Stephen Glass, which took place about five years after the events in the film. It is well worth seeing.
All in all, this is an outstanding film that will keep the viewer riveted to the screen. It is one that is well worth having in one's personal film collection. Bravo!
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