Cert: 15 Runtime: 124 mins Director: Jay Roach Cast: Brian Cranston, Diane Lane, Michael Stuhlbarg, Elle Fanning, Luis C.K, John Goodman and Helen Mirren
I’ve got allies and enemies. There’s no room for anything else
For any film fan the story of Dalton Trumbo is well known, but in the old tradition of award season biopics this has been the one. Bryan Cranston has received numerous award nods for his role. So what is Trumbo about? In 1947, talented, workaholic, wealthy Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) is a Communist Party member who speaks up for workers’ rights. This attracts the ire of such patriotic Tinseltown players as John Wayne and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren). More seriously for Trumbo, when the anti-Communist witch-hunt reaches Hollywood, he’s jailed for refusing to name names. On his emergence from prison, the principled writer finds himself blacklisted and unable to work except under a pseudonym.Never during the two hour run time was I genuinely upset about what I was seeing. As hard as the film tries to make you feel this way it never can. This is mainly because the film doesn’t show you much of anything. He goes to prison for about five minutes of the film and comes back saying how much it changed him, but how? All we see is him getting yelled at once or twice then he’s out. Instead of showing these injustices the film just talks calmly about them.
It’s hard to get your audience invested in the first place but not being able to actually see what these people are talking about just makes it that much harder. The film tries endlessly hard to make you care about what is going on but just can’t. Two hours of talking can certainly be interesting but ‘Trumbo’ talks about all the wrong things. It approaches everything with mild energy, which makes the few scenes that should’ve mattered feel just as boring as everything else.And this film is boring. Cranston as the lead is entertaining enough but his character doesn’t go anywhere. And all the conversations start off hateful but end with a cordial adieu. The film seems to hold itself back from taking risks as to avoid conflict. But how else are you suppose to invigorate an audience? The films motto seems to be, sometimes you have to do things that are scary in order to facilitate change. So why doesn’t the film actually do this?It makes this deeply intriguing story bland and a drag to sit through. Nothing has the power that the film intends it to have and ends up having in a very middling end result. It seems to think that the story alone will be enough. So it doesn’t dig much deeper into things. So, despite Cranstons performance, ‘Trumbo’ isn’t much more than an overly long Wikipedia page.