Studio: Lions Gate
Film Length: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Retail Price: $27.95
Like dozens of other films released each year, Shattered Glass was released to rave reviews by most critics yet the film was dumped into a small selection of theaters and it didn’t get any attention or business. The film slipped in and out of theaters very quickly, only making a little over two million but on March 23rd Lions Gate will release this film to DVD and like the companies earlier sleeper, Wonderland, hopefully the DVD release will get the film a little more attention.
Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen) is an up and coming writer for The New Republic as well as a freelance journalist for such magazines as George and Rolling Stone. Glass has everything going for right for him. At such a young age no one had gathered as much respect and best of all is that his coverage of political topics were able to carry humor to mix in with the drama. Glass was always able to impress his editor Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) but one bizarre story changed that.
Glass latest story called Hack Heaven was about a young hacker who was able to hack into the computer of a large software corporation but instead of pressing charges, the company instead hired this hacker to protect them from other hackers. This young kid earned millions and the story caught the eye of journalist Adam Penenberg (Steven Zahn), a writer for the internet site Forbes Digital Tool. Adam plans on doing a follow up piece but as he begins to do his research he soon learns that none of the sources can be found and even the company can’t be reached. Soon it becomes clear that Glass has made many errors in the story but there’s a lot more going on behind all the pages.
Shattered Glass is a remarkable film that has enough drama for two films and it’s a shame only a few people has seen this film. I wasn’t too familiar with the story of Stephen Glass so I’m not sure how popular this actual story was but as a movie everything is so well handed and the story is so well told that the drama comes very naturally without any problems. In our current times where blow ‘em up action films are raking in millions, it’s very refreshing to watch a film like this that goes for the brain instead of your wallet.
The film earned many comparisons to All the President’s Men, which I feel it deserves. Director Billy Ray gives us time to get to know the characters as well as the stage they are acting on, which is their office rooms and their computers. In an opening scene Stephen pretty much gives us the outline of what goes on in getting your story published and this here adds to the drama when his story starts to come under fire as being a fake. There are several editor meetings as well as fact checking and all of this comes off very natural and you can’t help but feel you’re watching a documentary instead of a film.
Another highlight of the film is the way everything comes lays itself out. The story isn’t a complicated one and in fact it’s very simple but that’s certainly not a negative thing. What Stephen Glass did was charm everyone from his friends to his editors that his fake stories seemed so real yet if those same people read the stories again with a clear mind they would have certainly known they were under a fraud. The film works on the same level because we the viewer knows exactly what’s going on but since we like Glass and perhaps feel sorry for him, we take his word and we check his sources again in hopes that what he’s saying is the truth. This is where the film’s drama comes from. We care for the character of Glass and we want him to redeem himself but at the same time we can’t hate his editor because he’s just doing his job as well. In the end, the film doesn’t settle for good guys versus the bad guys but instead tells a simple story about a mistake and the impact it had on those involved with it.
When I read the cast I must admit that I thought this was going to be a very stupid film with some overacting that you’d only find in a grade C film. That’s certainly the total opposite of what’s here and I’m now 100% certain that Academy voters never see every film out there, which is a shame because some of the year’s best acting can be seen here. Hayden Christenson gives a remarkable performance, which goes from a likeable, shy kid to a kid suffering from a nervous breakdown. The best scene in the movie is when Glass is having a conference call with Forbes magazine and while they are drilling him Glass keeps making up a story to try and throw them off his line. The way Christensen handles this is remarkable to watch because the acting is so natural that it feels like we’re watching the real Stephen Glass trying to get through these questions. Peter Sarsggard steals the film as the hated editor who must do the right thing and reveal the truth. Chloe Sevigny, Steve Zahn and Hank Azaria also deliver very good supporting performances.
Shattered Glass features no explosions, no gunfights, no sex scenes and no graphic violence. Instead it tells a simple story about a troubled man and a mistake he made and this simple story comes off so realistic that the drama naturally falls into place at every turn. I’m not sure how much, if anything was made up for this film but as a general viewing I thought everything worked perfectly without anything being forced on us. Even in the ending when most films would have thrown a message our way, this film doesn’t do that but instead lets us walk away because we’re smart enough to know what was wrong and what was right. Hopefully Shattered Glass will find a bigger audience on DVD because the film deserves it and most importantly, people deserve to see a film like this.
VIDEO---The film is shown widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. The picture quality is good but for such a recent film I must admit it’s rather disappointing. There’s some major edge enhancement in a few scenes but the problem only lasts a few seconds and it’s pretty much non-noticeable throughout the rest of the movie. Colors are good throughout and the blacks are very rich and deep. The biggest problem is some black speckles, which pop up throughout the transfer. This certainly isn’t a problem with older films but for a movie released in 2003 this really looks bad on the transfer. Overall the transfer is good but it’s certainly far from being great.
AUDIO---The sound is Dolby Digital 5.1 and like the video, it’s good but don’t expect anything great. The center channel handles the dialogue throughout and it’s very clear without any hiss or scratches. The Surrounds only come into play whenever there’s music in the background but this here really doesn’t pack much of a punch. The film is dialogue driven and since this is clear there isn’t too much to complain about here.
EXTRAS---First up is an audio commentary with director Billy Ray and the real Chuck Lane. For some strange reason this here isn’t listed on the DVD case as an extra but it’s certainly here and thank God for that. This is an incredibly entertaining track and it’s rather interesting hearing from the real Chuck Lane as a part of his life is playing on screen. The director goes into great detail talking about the real Stephen Glass and the making of the film. Everything from the actors to the screenplay are covered. Up next is an interview with the real Stephen Glass, which is from the show 60 Minutes. This here runs 12-minutes and is pretty interesting. A theatrical trailer is also included (although not listed on the DVD case).
OVERALL---This is a remarkable film that didn’t find an audience but I really hope that changes in a few days when this film will get a second chance on DVD. The drama comes off remarkably well and the film contains some of the best acting I’ve seen in a recent film. The Lions Gate DVD is good but there are some minor problems with the transfer and the sound is good enough for a dialogue driven film. The extras alone are worth the retail price of this.
Release Date: March 23, 2004