State of Play
Here’s an oddity. This is a pretty damn good movie … and I’m going to recommend that you not see it. It is a 2-hour remake of a 6-hour British television miniseries, and the original is so very, very much better than the copy that it would be a crime to see this one and not the other. And, of course, if you did see this one, it would spoil the myriad surprises in the original.
I recognize that not everyone will agree with me. Your decision as to which one to see will probably be based on your cinematic preferences. This is an American film. If you are looking for stars, this is the one to see. The original was very much an ensemble piece, the only major name being Bill Nighy. The remake is star-studded, and the main protagonist has been pumped up to make it a lead role for Russell Crowe. The other characters in the investigative reporting team have been dialed down or eliminated, and not to the story’s benefit. Mind you, I’m not saying any of them are bad … it’s just much more of a by-the-numbers exercise, a Hollywood take on a much more complex and interesting and deep British story. With 6 hours, you can develop such interesting characters, and take the time to show how this sort of reporting really works, instead of an abbreviated, compressed version.
You may find a 6-hour series daunting, but the only way to see it is on DVD, and it is well worth the investment of your time over two or three evenings. As I said in my original review, it is the Lonesome Dove of newspaper movies. Imagine, if you can, Lonesome Dove cut down to two hours. It makes me shudder to even think about it. So, though I feel everyone involved in this version was doing their best, it’s just not enough.