Shattered Glass Reviews
Seeing Shattered Glass with the intention of witnessing the greater capabilities of Hayden Christensen proved to be a prophecy that was fulfilled. Alas, the film didn't really fulfil much else in terms of entertainment. The central flaw in the film can be credited to Shattered Glass' sheer simplicity. It is a film which aims to touch viewers with its exploration of characters and the industry they work within as a means of challenging audience perception of ethics in journalism, but it really doesn't have that much of a story. The entire plot essentially occurs entirely within the workplace touched upon by the film, the offices of The New Republic journalists. We are given a light sense of the difficult atmosphere they work within and the communal engagement that has developed between them all, but rarely do we get much of a sense of their respective individuality. We get a decent portrait of the characters and their ambitions, but no understanding of how they function on a deeper level. We are particularly given minimal understanding of Stephen Glass' personal history or the deeper purposing behind his decisions to create fraudulent stories, meaning that the story is more of a glimpse into the life of the journalism workplace than it is an in-depth character piece. As the story maintains a shallow focus in a story which is already rather simplistic and carries a slow pace, Shattered Glass rarely ends up being strongly engaging. The best moments of the film consistently prove to be the most intense character interactions, and since character depth isn't one of the better aspects of the film the drama ends up mostly monotonous. Shattered Glass is simply a film in which far too little happens for audiences to be kept consistently engaged.
This kind of focus also means that the film fails to be an exercise in style as there is nothing experimental or distinctive about the manner in which the film presents itself on a visual level. Everything comes off as bland, and although the fact that the film is a simple low-budget production means that this can't be a point of high criticism, the fact is that the film ends up as lacking on a visual level as it is with overall depth. But given that Shattered Glass is Billy Ray's debut as a director, this simply serves as a sign that he still needs to find his footing.
At the very least, Billy Ray deserves some praise for being restrained enough to let the actors take charge with their characters. And as a result, the high point of Shattered Glass can definitely be attributed to the performances of the cast.
Hayden Christensen delivers one of the finest performances of his career in Shattered Glass. The man captures the sympathies of audiences by emphasizing his friendly nature. Focusing on trying to charm audiences and every other character around him, Hayden Christensen works to emphasize well-intentioned nature of Stephen Glass through his gentle nature and his friendly reactions with those around him as a man who attempts to avoid conflict in any way possible. It becomes easy to side with him in the process and believe anything he says, making it more difficult to accept the fact that his stories were largely fabricated. While we don't understand the full extent of how he justified it to himself, Hayden Christensen exposes the insecure and vulnerable nature of the character. The actor is very restrained with the role, refusing to enter melodramatic territory. He is actually very restrained with the character, only revealing the side that Stephen Glass would have wanted to share with audiences before breaking down the barriers of himself more and more as his career begins to collapse around him. Hayden Christensen creates a very likable protagonist and delivers his words in a manner which is very sophisticated an intelligent, boosting the credibility of his character and the story of Stephen Glass. As a contrast to his widely-criticized performances as Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy (2002, 2005), Shattered Glass is a reminder of the greater potential the actor had in a role with better material.
However, Peter Sarsgaard delivers the real standout performance of Shattered Glass. While the film itself has us convincingly hypnotized by the charms of Stephen Glass and sympathising with his struggles, Peter Sarsgaard takes on the responsibility of giving the film an antagonist by portraying the man determined to take him down. Charles Lane is a man on a relentless fight to maintain a fair standard of ethics in journalistic practice, one in which he must conquer Stephen Glass to do. He is the villain of Stephen Glass' story and the hero of the ethical world, therefore being the most layered character in the story. The story delves into a seemingly personal vendetta he has against Stephen Glass which makes it questionable just where his true intentions lie. It's hard to decipher the motivation behind the character, but with his sophisticated line delivery and raw emotional edge he becomes so interesting that audiences cannot help but wonder it. Peter Sarsgard's powerful charisma cements his presence as the most interesting character in the story. When he and Hayden Christensen interact, the film enters its most glorious moments because the contrasting nature of the two characters ends up challenging audience perception of right and wrong. We support the liar and condemn the judge, and it says a lot about the extent of power in the actors' performances. Together, Hayden Christensen and Peter Sarsgaard give some memorable moments of dramatic power to Shattered Glass.
Chloe Sevigny and Hank Azaria also make likable characters, and Rosario Dawson is welcome as always.
Shattered Glass brings out the best acting talents of both Hayden Christensen and Peter Sarsgard, but despite their efforts to make the story more emotionally compelling, the script ends up lacking sufficient character insight which results in a rather simplistic glimpse into the office of journalistic practice and little else.
Now, I know what you're thinking. "Hayden Christensen? That HORRIBLE actor from the Star Wars prequels? No way I'll watch this garbage!" Hold on there, folks. I'm about to state the impossible: HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN IS GOOD IN THIS MOVIE. Strange, yes, but true. His honest portrayal of Glass is refreshing and heart-breaking. Peter Sarsgaard also delivers a strong performance as the editor of the journal Glass writes for. At first, it's easy to dislike Sarsgaard's character, but, as more information is discovered regarding Glass, he quickly becomes the "hero" of the story. The tension and discomfort between certain characters in this movie feels genuine; it was very well-edited and scored as well.
Personally, when it comes to a true story, I like to see more of the people outside their jobs. It just makes them easier to understand. Some characters came off as very one-dimensional and didn't add much to the film. It's a picky thing, I know, but it's worth mentioning.
Overall, if you enjoyed Spotlight or any other movie about writers and breaking big stories, you'll enjoy Shattered Glass. This diamond in the rough is worth digging up.
Final grade: B