A prolific tyro leaps up the ranks at a hallowed American news source. An affable workaholic, he cranks out lively copy and seems to be everywhere at once. Then sources and editors notice his articles are riddled with glitches and mystifying holes. This intrepid hack has often been reporting from nowhere but inside his own head. The jig is up, the august publication swallows humble pie, the media grandly ponder the greater significance of the scandal, and the disgraced fraudster shuffles off to sort out his six-figure book deal. In 2003, Jayson Blair's reams of tale-telling for the New York Times prompted 7,500 words of self-flagellation from the paper. That sorry spectacle evoked the boyish, rumpled spectre of one Stephen Glass, who cooked 27 of the 41 articles he published as an associate editor at the New Republic until top editor Chuck Lane dismissed him in 1998. In debut director Billy Ray's adept, often incisively funny recounting of the Glass debacle (adapted from a Vanity Fair piece by Buzz Bissinger), Hayden Christensen embodies Glass as an earnest, almost epicene sixth-former, padding around the NR offices in his socks, making puppyish offerings of gum to fellow staffers, defusing any hint of displeasure or suspicion from superiors - notably the excellent Sarsgaard as Lane - with childish wheedlings ('Are you mad at me?' and 'Don't hate me' being favourites). The film deftly replicates the mechanics of the protagonist's queasy downward spiral, but, barring a few facetious voice-overs, declines to attempt entry into the mind of the miscreant. Glass remains a cipher, a beaming, baffling enigma, perhaps even to himself. JWin.
Cast and crew