trumbo bryan cranston

Film Review: TRUMBO

ABOUT THE WRITER: A self-confessed film, music, food and history buff, Emily Russ is an aspiring journalist with an obsession for all things rockabilly and vintage.

The simple question “are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?” was all it took to destroy the career of one of Hollywood’s top screenwriters. Directed by Jay Roach, TRUMBO is not a story of loss, it’s the story of a fight. TRUMBO is the fascinating true story of Dalton Trumbo, the man who gave us some of history’s greatest films including ROMAN HOLIDAY, SPARTACUS and THE BRAVE ONE. Set between the late 1940s and early 50s, the film gives a glimpse into the charming world Trumbo lived in before it was all taken away and the fight that follows against anti-communist hysteria. 

In 1947, Hollywood was in its golden age. America was enjoying post-war prosperity with three new buzzwords taking the Western world by storm: The Communist Threat. As a registered member of the Communist Party, Trumbo would appear before the now infamous House Un-American Activities Committee and find himself blacklisted for refusing to testify. Along with friends and colleagues – known as the Hollywood Ten – Trumbo would be shunned by the world, denied work and forced to sell his country ranch to pay bills. Despite a number of setbacks – including being sent to prison – Trumbo continues to work and fight, just under different names. Creating alias after alias, Trumbo strikes a deal with the shady and hilarious Frank King of King Brothers Productions, who, as his character played by John Goodman says, turn out garbage. Their partnership opens the door to other blacklisted writers who take cheap-and-cheerful scripts and turn them into Oscar-winning stories.

Deliciously witty, TRUMBO is full of colourful characters to keep the film upbeat and entertaining. Nominated for the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Actor, Bryan Cranston is brilliant as the cheeky Dalton Trumbo. Bryan as Trumbo is also never short of a one-liner, bringing sass to the courtroom and disarming John – ‘MERICA – Wayne himself with his quick-wittedness. Golden Globe nominee for Best Supporting Actress, Helen Mirren plays the scheming Hedda Hopper whose entertainment reports demonize Trumbo, all while spectacularly dressed. Helen is fantastic as the somewhat Cruella DeVille-esque character – with hats becoming more ridiculously opulent each time she’s on screen. Classic movie fans will love the insight TRUMBO provides on the making of some of the greatest films of all time. Film legend Kirk Douglas, played by Dean O’Gorman, throws Trumbo a lifeline when he employs him to work on the epic SPARTACUS. Breaking the blacklist’s horrific stronghold more than a decade after its creation, Kirk insists on Trumbo receiving due credit and sparks the beginning a new life for the writer. Trumbo’s wife played by Diane Lane stands out as the supportive rock of the family while his eldest daughter played by Elle Fanning weathers as the endearingly strong-willed force that keeps Trumbo fighting.

While the film provides plenty of laughs, TRUMBO does not ignore the sad and true stories where lives were lost, friendships destroyed and careers gone overnight. What TRUMBO shows is that talent overcomes everything while one man’s determination across time, with the help of friends and family, will win over the injustices of fear. Heartwarming, heartbreaking and hilarious, TRUMBO reminds us that no one has the right to tell an artist how to write, act, pray, speak, vote, protest, love, create, talk or think.

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