Film Review – Trumbo (2015)

Trumbo 2015

Title – Trumbo (2015)

Director – Jay Roach (Meet the Parents)

Cast – Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Michael Stuhlbarg, Helen Mirren, Louis C.K., John Goodman, Elle Fanning, Alan Tudyk

Plot – In the late 1940’s the communist threat in America reaches its breaking point and Hollywood screenwriter and party member Dalton Trumbo (Cranston) finds himself in prison and on the outer of his industry which sets forth a battle for the talented writer to get his works published.

“Who the hell has the luxury of friends? I’ve got allies and enemies. There’s no room for anything else”

Review by Eddie on 3/10/2016

Trumbo’s the type of based on a true story film that could’ve been anything from an outright crowd pleasing and critical hit to a largely forgettable pedestrian retelling of a fascinating time in the history of America and in particular Hollywood in regards to its treatment of communists in the form of their working blacklist. That usual comedy helmer Jay Roach’s film then leans towards the latter of the two possible outcomes is a huge shame.

Barely making an impact upon release despite industry speculation it could be an awards season hit, Trumbo feels like an exercise in the mundane despite its colourful lead character and potent subject matter but Roach’s film is devoid of personality and heart and not even a scene chewing Bryan Cranston (who is starting to feel like the very definition of awards chaser) can muster up any life into this bland and mostly lifeless feature.

The tale of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo and his imprisonment for communism followed by a Hollywood blacklisting is a tale ripe for the picking but Roach never seems sure on how to get the most out of it.

The tale seems simplified and underutilised and while Cranston tries his hardest to bring the film home, Trumbo never becomes an endearing character and when surrounded by underused supports from the likes of Dianne Lane as Trumbo’s long suffering wife Cleo, John Goodman (who gets to do a slight variation on his Big Lebowski car smashing meltdown) as low key studio king pin Frank King and Louis C.K. as Trumbo’s fellow communist Arlen Hird, the film never makes us care like we should.

There’s a much better movie to be made of this story and one that should be made as Trumbo’s trials against the odds to deliver award winning scripts like The Brave One, Roman Holiday and Spartacus could be a film worthy of our attention. There are curious moments within Roach’s film and moments of genuine wit and humour but Trumbo as a whole is a non-event retelling of an industry changing time.

2 well-manicured moustaches out of 5

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7 responses to “Film Review – Trumbo (2015)

  1. What a disappointment! I really enjoy Bryan Cranston and had high hopes for this film. From your review Eddie, it sounds like nothing more than a glorified movie of the week on the Lifetime channel. As always, thanks for the heads up. It is sad when a movie has a fine cast and never quite gets it together. Do you think the outcome would have been different if they would have had a director like Tom Hooper?

    • Perhaps Susan but I think the core of this films problems are script based, there’s not much holding it all together rand the characters feel like impersonations rather than real people.
      E

      • Maybe Bryan has been felled by the Jim Carrey disease. You know we want an Oscar so bad that every film we are in, we will chew the scenery until you nominate us, DAMN IT!

  2. I keep reading such lacklustre reviews for this movie, hence I have yet to see it. Will bump it just a bit further down my watch list. Again.

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