20 September 2004 | FilmOtaku
An impressively compelling film
The public-at-large loves a good scandal, and in 1998, the scandal involving Stephen Glass was a pretty darn good one. It turned out that Glass, a young prodigy who was writing for several magazines, but primarily for the prestigious 'New Republic' ('the in-flight magazine of Air Force One') had fabricated some or all of 21 of his 41 well-received stories; a scandal that rocked the journalism world and was picked up by the general public and was later repeated with Jayson Blair.
'Shattered Glass', co-written and directed by Billy Ray examines this true-life story, with Hayden Christensen playing Glass and Peter Sarsgaard as his editor, Chuck Lane. I have never seen Christensen's work in anything else until this point, and I was impressed by his acting chops. He was able to handily express Glass's desperate need for acceptance and his compulsive and repulsively cunning nature so well that the viewer, when faced with the dilemma of how to feel about this man, can only watch numbly as the train wreck that becomes his life careens further out of control. Sarsgaard, as usual, is fantastic as the fair and decent-minded Lane, the editor who first tries to help and protect Glass, but then, after digging deeper, finds that there is a lot more to the man than sloppy journalism.
It is actually surprising to me that 'Shattered Glass' became a film. I remember reading a Vanity Fair piece on Glass back when the scandal broke, and that, and the myriad other articles seemed to be sufficient exposure. The fact that 'Shattered Glass' was released five years after the scandal settled down, and that it is a compelling screenplay and film is a testimony to Ray's (a first time director) talent. 'Shattered Glass' is gut-wrenching in that it is difficult to watch because the viewer knows how deep Glass digs himself, and it's not necessarily fun to watch. 'Shattered Glass' is an intelligent, well-done film and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who appreciates that a film doesn't have to be showy in order to make an impact.