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The film's MVPs are Bryan Cranston's dedicated performance as the title character, and, appropriately, John McNamara's jocular screenplay, with a terrific ensemble of supporters also along for the ride back to Hollywood's notorious past
Bryan Cranston creates a potent sense of Trumbo as a reasonable man, full of charm, eloquence and principle and he is surrounded by a string of performances to savour.
The Hollywood Reporter
What makes the movie work are the lively performances, both from the supporting cast and from Cranston, who sheds the mimicry and pontificating of earlier scenes to turn Trumbo into a wry, self-deprecating and somewhat cheeky older man, even if he continued to stand up for what was right.
The New Yorker
The drama is stuck with that ethical rigor, and we are left with a near-heretical irony: thanks to this admiring tribute, our hero gets top billing at last, but was he not more beguiling, somehow, as a legendary figure in the shadows?
[Jay Roach] wants the film to be fun, while the story is serious. It’s a good idea and an admirable intention. But it does suffer the odd wobble.
Trumbo may be clumsy and overly simplistic at times, but it’s still an important reminder of how democracy can fail (that is, when a fervent majority turns on those with different and potentially threatening values), and the strength of character it takes to fight the system.
Cranston has his moments and you have to laud his attention to detain in channeling Trumbo’s unique voice and mannerisms. Unfortunately, he’s so committed that his character borders on being a caricature.
Trumbo works well enough as a general survey of Trumbo's life and career, a primer on a complicated man who endured a terrible injustice, but it fails to really engage with the material, to dig deep for significant themes and salient meanings
Like Jay Roach's Game Change and Recount, the film's patina of relative apoliticism masks (or enables) its blandness of inquiry.
The film fails as a portrait, and it's not much better at drama.
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