Hollywood is so fond of making movies about movies, but at this point, it’s a film that shows us a shameful period of Hollywood where hundreds of writers were ostracized for supposedly supporting the communist party. Dalton Trumbo, probably the most renowned blacklisted writer who won a few Oscars under many fake names in 1950’s. Even he used an alias to stay afloat in the business after going to jail, interesting, no? Yes, this film unleashes the typically compound life of this dearly loved screenwriter.
There’s a beautifully enlightening speech given by Dalton Trumbo in 1970 to the Writers Guild of America, brought here to life by this year’s Oscar nominee Bryan Cranston. He’s quite mighty as Trumbo, embodying the quick-tempered brilliance of a writer who drafts his wonderful writings in the bathtub, pen in one hand, cigarette holder in the other, wearing thick spectacles below his wrinkled forehead, beating the stylish typewriter in a rythm to the jazzy score, and whose obstinate attitude is an origin of both being strong and fragile.
Not just Cranston, but seriously I don’t think they could have chosen a better cast for Trumbo than this. His co-stars give it their all to elevate the title role’s charisma. Diane Lane is superb as Trumbo‘s caring but forbearing spouse, defending her children against their father’s drug and alcohol irascibility. Louis C.K, as his elder daughter, is also too good even if she doesn’t age although the film spans for 23 years or so. John Goodman is very funny as a studio head who likes making bad films and intimidates a guy beating up with a baseball bat. Or even Helen Mirren’s character, who is zany all the while because of her symphony of crazy hats and crazier looks.
The story is fascinating to grab your attention, but the script simply does not have enough substance to be great. While the film is merely a montage of the most important portions of his life, you never get a sense of his character arc or really what became of him until the end credits explain it. For a film about a writer, it wasn’t actually written all that well, which is a bit disappointing thing but Trumbo is mildly entertaining with few great moments throughout its 2 hour running time.
What I personally liked is, conveying the significance of Otto Preminger’s unsung role in bringing Trumbo’s name back on screen, also the depiction of how a writer’s family is under his control and the duty that his actions and loyalties take upon them. Yes, there are few tonal inconsistencies along with some lack of attention in detailing. Despite it’s a bit of missed opportunity, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Trumbo character in this interesting time period. Overall, it is not a film that is remembered for very long, but upon being reminded of it, the brilliant performance of Bryan Cranston is all that will brim your brain first to recollect about the movie.
My Rating: 3/5