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State of Play

Find the Truth 

Year: 2009 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Kevin McDonald 
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams  
An image from State of Play

Sonia Baker, a researcher for Congressman Stephen Collins (Affleck) commits suicide on the same morning as a young thief is killed by a mysterious hitman. Journalists Cal McCaffrey (Crowe) and Della Frye (McAdams) investigate the two deaths, which they believe are connected to Collins’ investigation of a private defence contractor, PointCorp. Cal and Della are drawn further and further into a web of intrigue and murder that begins to point towards some painful revelations for Congressman Collins…

Based on the critically acclaimed BBC series of the same name, State of Play's action is transferred to Washington DC, and a few minor details are changed, but State of Play is a successful big-screen outing for a fast-paced and complex story of political corruption, journalistic endeavour and private lives. None of the characters are ‘white knights’: they all have their flaws, and part of the enjoyment is seeing Crowe and Affleck negotiate their way through the moral mire of their respective careers. The verbal sparring between McCaffrey and his editor Cameron Lynne (Mirren) is particularly good, even without the presence of Bill Nighy, who played the all powerful editor in the TV series. The only slightly duff note is McAdams, whose blogger-turned-journalist is a little too timely. On that subject, there are a few efforts to make the film a little more true to life. The rise of the blog and the privatisation of the armed forces are both discussed, and while these discourses don’t really jar, the story could easily do without them.

Kevin McDonald does an excellent job of transforming some first rate source material, and the cast almost without exception make State of Play a fast-paced and enjoyable political thriller.

Marcus Kelly

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Screenings of this film:

2009/2010 Autumn Term (35mm)
2009/2010 Autumn Term (35mm)