Starring: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Louis C.K., John Goodman, Michael Stuhlbarg
Directed by: Jay Roach
Written by: John McNamara
Running Time: 2 hr. 4 min
Trumbo is a film that tries to blend two important ingredients, but ultimately doesn’t quite pull it off. The first component wants to tell you all about the Hollywood Black List, and why Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) was arrested and thrown in jail. The rest of the mix, which sticks more closely with Trumbo, discusses this period in history from his point of view.
I found the simpler focus of that second component more entertaining, but at the same time, I was also puzzled that very little of this film explored the award-winning writer’s creative process. This is after all, the guy that wrote Roman Holiday, Spartacus, The Brave One, and Exodus. A little more insight into his creative mind would have been appreciated.
This then is a very ambitious film, which isn’t a particularly fresh take on ‘red scare’ paranoia, or a thorough biopic about Dalton Trumbo. It doesn’t spend enough time during its first hour developing the characters around Trumbo (playing more like a highlight reel), or fully exploit moments that should have punished those folks that were on the wrong side of history.
That’s not to say this film is a disaster, because it’s not. You can thank its great cast for that. Helen Mirren classes up every scene she’s in, and John Goodman is always fun as the unapologetic (and occasionally violent) producer of crappy movies, Frank King. At the center of this film however, is a superb performance by Brian Cranston. After the film I watched several interviews with Trumbo, and can say quite confidently, Brian’s portrayal was well researched, and performed.
This is your classic well produced period piece. Expect flash bulbs, suits and fedoras, and a story that eventually finds its focus on its titular character. This film is rated R for language and some brief nudity.
Trumbo is well produced, and looks great on a cinema screen. If you wait for the rental, see it in HD on a nice big TV.
Acting the brash unapologetic loud mouth is a no-brainer for John Goodman, but it’s always fun to watch! His violent response to being threatened by a representative of the House Un-American Activities Committee, is fantastic!