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Trumbo serves as an honorable and well-acted tribute to a brilliant writer's principled stand, even if it doesn't quite achieve the greatness of its subject's own classic screenplays.
All Critics (192)
| Top Critics (35)
| Fresh (142)
| Rotten (50)
| DVD (2)
The film is a labour of love for Bryan Cranston, as Trumbo. As Hollywood's greatest screenwriter, embattled but not beaten, he embodies the old Hemingway definition of courage: "grace under pressure".
Trumbo is no masterpiece, but the story of a writer imprisoned in America for his political beliefs needed to be told.
We are left with the painful irony that a film about a screenwriter so good that Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger couldn't live without him suffers from a dull and slow-moving script.
Trumbo is ... a blast, even if the screenplay perversely lacks the energy of its title character, who is played with great wit and brio by Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston.
It's a period piece full of colorful characters, natty costumes, jaunty music.
The movie's main idea seems to be that, in the end, people prefer movies to ideas. Or at least ideologies.
The locations, costumes and setting capture the glamour of old Hollywood; with an ensemble bringing that world alive with some on-the-nose portrayals of some of the era's greatest legends.
A solid bio picture that may not always hit the mark, but it is anchored by a strong performance from Bryan Cranston.
It's a shame that a movie about one of the greatest screenwriters who ever lived is so uninspired. A story like this deserves more gravitas, fewer guffaws.
Movie and history buffs will be immersed in this pointed and reference-filled exploration of one of the most infamous chapters in Hollywood and American history, while Cranston fans will be delighted to see the actor's immense talents translate so well
Cranston plays Trumbo as a magnificent thorn in the side of political right. His magnanimous personality, keen powers of persuasion and gift of the gab kept him safe for a while.
Entertaining, swiftly moving, and just as witty as the man himself.
Very entertaining look at the Hollywood era of blacklisted communist artists and how one of the biggest writers of the time dealt with it. There are some slow parts, but especially the (perfectly cast) stars of the time showing up make for some really fun scenes. Cranston's charisma easily makes for a relate-able protagonist, who is easily forgiven for his quirks, while his struggle against oppression makes for a very engaging story. The ending is particularly satisfying.
It doesn't matter how cinematic or worthy of being told a real story is (which is the case) when it is made into an ordinary, uninspired biopic full of clichés and one-dimensional characters - and it is even worse that it looks like a cheap TV movie made by an obviously mediocre director.
"Trumbo" benefits from exceptionally good acting from Cranston, and good performances by Fanning and Lane, as well as a compelling story, sets and costumes. Otherwise, there is not much more to the film than your standard, well-worn film. It is timely, to be sure -- but it offers little beyond its message and moments of well-chewed wisdom.
Bryan Cranston is just such a very good actor. He utilizes his entire being - voice, eyes, mouth, shoulders, gut, hands, feet - to create a multifaceted performance. "Trumbo" is the maddening story about the unconstitutional witch hunt of suspected communists and communist sympathizers during the Red Scare. Hollywood ghostwriter of "Roman Holiday" Dalton Trumbo and friends face persecution, job loss, imprisonment, prejudice, and harassment for committing the crime of taking the 1st Amendment literally.
The script hits all the intellectual and emotional highs and lows (though sometimes a bit too abstrusely), and the historical context surrounding the blacklist (post-WWII and pre-civil rights movement) are nicely evinced. The splicing together of modern actors into grainy black and white footage is also very cool. The performances are all strong, especially Cranston and Michael Stuhlbarg (whom I could not place for the life of me, but now realize, played the titular serious man in one of the first Coen Brothers' movies I ever liked) as the stocky, noir antihero in life and art, Edward G. Robinson.
A recurring continuity error that really grinded my gears though was the awkward aging, namely the random and sudden swapping in of giantess Elle Fanning as middle daughter Nikola (great name, though) while the babyfaced eldest brother looks exactly the same. Then later when the eldest brother is portrayed by an older actor while Elle Fanning looks exactly the same. Then Alan Tudyk and Diane Lane looking exactly the same thirty years later, though let's be honest, Lane will never age. And of course, Elle Fanning in a brassy red, Jackie O-style blowout reminiscent of the horrible age make-up job for Bonnie Wright as thirty-five-year-old Ginny Weasley. Why, future? Why?
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