Trumbo ★★½

Jay Roach is best known for light Hollywood comedies Austin Powers and Meet the Parents. The story of blacklisted Hollywood scriptwriter Dalton Trumbo, and his treatment after being "outed" as a former member of the Communist Party is a compelling, dramatic and true story. The two work together like water and oil - not a great mix.

The good - Michael Stuhlbarg's Edward G.Robinson is the only fully formed character in the film, and he gives a nicely shaded performance. And Helen Mirren is on full scenery-chewing mode as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper and seems to be having a great time. Throw in John Goodman, being John Goodman but as entertaining as ever.

The problem lies ironically in an uneven script which seems to play against the dramatic by throwing in levity where the story calls for far more gravitas. Part of that problem lies in Bryan Cranston as Trumbo, playing it like a sitcom character and nothing like a real person. Yes, I've no doubt some of his speeches are Trumbo's own words yet the delivery of them feels inauthentic. It's this artifice which is a big problem and ultimately you feel like this is not much of a step above a TV movie. Women are very much in the background for the film (Mirren excepted) so Diane Lane and Elle Fanning as Trumbo's wife and daughter respectively are mere ciphers and adding to the lack of depth in the movie.

Hollywood loves stories about Hollywood and one suspects the release of this film was aimed at Oscar season - however Trumbo's story deserves better - it's a fair entertainment but little more and anyone wanting to know more would be better placed to seek out Peter Askin's excellent doco, also called Trumbo - a far better tribute to this fantastic writer.

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