Slowly broadening into more theaters, "Good Night, and Good Luck," the black-and-white film from George Clooney, is a riveting tale of journalistic heroism and a to-the-point commentary on the media situation today.
Taking an in-depth look at news reporter Edward R. Murrow as he risked his career to battle the injustices being performed by Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950's, "Good Night, and Good Luck" is a powerful blend of good direction, terrific acting and a resonant true story, though it is not without its flaws.
The movie starts off a bit slowly and never completely captures the audience, though it comes close for the remaining two acts. Clooney has wisely chosen a very subtle and non-dramatic approach to his directing style here, but the price of quality is high - some may get bored before the film really picks up. Still, for those willing to watch a movie that does not fit within the standard Hollywood style of over-dramatizing everything for the sake of entertainment, "Good Night, and Good Luck" is a film for you.
The movie stars as David Strathairn as the serious reporter, and boy does he do a good job. A consistently great actor, Strathairn rarely is given the credit he deserves, and this movie may well be his breakout role if I have anything to say about it. Though he has headlined a few films like "Limbo" and had a major role in "The River Wild," most of the big movies he has starred in have relegated him to a supporting role. While this movie is in many ways an ensemble film (Clooney, Jeff Daniels, Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson and a few other recognizable faces all have important screen time), Strathairn really shines here - even though he's in black and white. While I don't necessarily see an Oscar nomination coming from this performance, it's going to come his way sooner or later.
Most importantly is the theme the film is trying to get across, that the media should be free of corporate entanglements and that someone should stand up for what is right, not for what is entertaining or politically safe. In a day and age where reporters can get fired for saying one wrong thing or even a right thing that goes against political sentiment, "Good Night, and Good Luck" is a breath of fresh air, proving that at least some important people realize just how scary things are today. Personally, the way the media bends over backwards to be safe and non-scathing toward political figures is very scary, as things like Joe McCarthy are going on ("You're either with us or against us") but on a global scale and no one will really stand up from an unbiased viewpoint and say so.
"Good Luck, and Good Night" is a powerful little film that could have benefited from some pacing improvements. Smart and deliciously well-acted, this is one of the finer films of 2005.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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