Shattered Glass

Don’t Cheat Kids

Main Cast: Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsgaard, Hank Azaria, Chloe Sevigny

Director: Billy Ray

This film, loosely following the non-fiction story of one Stephen Glass, a reporter for the New Republic, doesn’t have so much a plot as a cautionary tale against lying. For that is what Glass did while working as an editor: he made up stories. These were fantastic stories that seemed too good to be true (and, alas, were).

How did he get away with it? By being really nice and really, well, ingratiating (how about fawning?). Glass, played by the young Hayden Christensen (of Anakin Skywalker/Star Wars fame), comes across as a very bright, outgoing fellow who is kind and considerate (he remembers birthdays and people’s dietary preferences) and the last person you’d think of who would lie about a story. But sometimes, of course, it is the person you’d least suspect. He also has a very vivid imagination (for coming up with the stories from scratch, he would have to) and that is woven into the movie in flashbacks and other tricks.

The film follows two or three of his stories, and the one he is caught in. His old boss, a really nice guy, was replaced by another nice guy, but not well-liked by the staff. Glass takes advantage of that when things go sour, pitting his co-workers against the guy. Glass fails, is caught, and is fired. This time, good does triumph and the cheater does reap the consequences of his actions. But he really isn’t evil or mean, just young and ambitious. Because of that, and because this film really is based on fact, it has a ring of truth and of reality, while still retaining drama.

This is a nice little film, fairly light but engaging. It also shows that Christensen really can act, when given a chance and under a capable director. Gratifying for us to see, and (I’m sure) certainly satisfying to him.

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