Film Review: Trumbo

TRUMBO

Director Jay Roach’s Trumbo is an engaging and finely written biographical drama. With great performances, the film is a must see.

Successful Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo is also a member of the Communist Party in the 1940s. When the House of Un-American Activities Committee starts to investigate the film industry, Trumbo and several of his colleagues find themselves blacklisted…

There is a difficulty in writing a film about a brilliant screenwriter. However, John McNamara pulls it off with Trumbo. There are plenty of films about Hollywood and filmmaking, several of these are excellent in fact, but Trumbo shows a darker period and aspect of the industry. Despite the seriousness of the issue, there is a playfulness that avoids a descent into bleakness. Nevertheless, this in no way diminishes the hardships of those affected.

Trumbo‘s narrative is well constructed; the real strength of the film is its screenplay. The film covers an extensive period, yet it never feels like it is not delving into relevant parts of each era. McNarama shows the light and shade of such a time. The film does broadly characterise heroes and villains with sufficient shades of grey. Characters are three dimensional enough to not be caricatures. Above all, Trumbo paints the absurdity and sadness of the situation.

Jay Roach’s direction is solid, and production values in the film are good. Fans of Classic Hollywood will surely enjoy the portrayal of well-known faces from this era. Bryan Cranston delivers a wonderful performance in the title role. Diane Lane is also good as wife Cleo. There are some great smaller parts in the film; Helen Mirren and John Goodman appear to be having fun roles.

Trumbo highlights a significant figure in Hollywood history, and an important aspect of that history. The film takes its subject matter to weave a engrossing picture.

Trumbo is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2015.