Director: Jay Roach
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Elle Fanning, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Alan Tudyk, John Goodman, Roger Bart, Stephen Root, Michael Stuhlbarg, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Louis C.K.
Genre: Biography, Drama, Comedy
Age Rating: 15/R
Running Time: 124 minutes
Bringing us an alternative form of inspiration this February, TRUMBO tells us the unbelievable true story of Dalton Trumbo, one of the greatest screen writers to ever grace and shape Hollywood.
As glamorous as being a part of Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s may appear to us today, with the likes of John Wayne and Kirk Douglas in blockbusters, both of which have characters in this film, nothing prepares you for the levels of corruption and ignorance that you realise in fact existed in this phenomenal era.
Following the Second World War, Dalton Trumbo is already a critically acclaimed writer who has served his country well. However, following a paranoid investigation from the US Congress into communism within their country since their involvement with the Soviet Union, Trumbo is blacklisted, along with 18 other writers, for being a communist. After facing a jail sentence for failing to comply with the government and studios being banned from hiring the ten men sentenced, Trumbo creates work for himself the only way he knows how to, writing movie scripts, but this time in a more creative and conniving way.
With some fascinating cinematography, outstanding sets and costume design, and a brilliant use of black and white filming for certain scenes, TRUMBO transports you back in time to the glitz and glamour of post-war Hollywood. Even though it is challenging such a serious aspect of move history, this film has a superb comical undertone, with infectious dialogue from the likes of Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Louis C.K. who continually mock the government and the backstabbers around them.
Bryan Cranston is mind-blowing as Dalton Trumbo, showcasing award-winning comical and dramatic performances in the space of two hours. Once again he captures the essence of a spectacular personality, and portrays a character battling his “radical” self with his “rich” self. He is non-stop comedy gold in this feature, with a particular stand-out point being when he offends the character of John Wayne (played by David James Elliott).
This film is a smorgasbord of acting talent, from young right through to old, and two stand-out performances are from the female supporting cast, for completely different reasons. Helen Mirren’s journalist character Hedda Hopper is hateable throughout, but equally her comical impact on the film keeps the audience laughing throughout. Elle Fanning’s character of Trumbo’s daughter is empowering as it is terrific to see a daughter in that particular era, so strong and prepared to stand up to her father who becomes engrossed in his writing and as a result neglects his family.
There are endless positives to take from this film, but what blows me away about TRUMBO is how it acts as a master-class in Hollywood education. From passing his script for ROMAN HOLIDAY onto his friend Ian McLellan (Alan Tudyk) in order to have it bought by studios legally, to writing the shock Academy Award winner THE BRAVE ONE for King Productions, and then being approached by celebrated actor Kirk Douglas to write the script for the infamous late 1950s film SPARTACUS, I felt like I had just come out of a film history lesson and also ashamed to say that I did not know anything other than the name of Trumbo beforehand.
Overall, TRUMBO is an astounding film which will mesmerise any film and Hollywood fan throughout, with awe-inspiring scenes, but also non-stop comedy. Any viewer of this film will come away in love with the smoking, drinking and bath-loving writer Dalton Trumbo who helped transform the naïve outlook on American communists with the help of his family and some very close friends.
“Do you have to say everything like it’s going to be chiselled into a rock?”
Recommendation: If you are a film or Hollywood lover, you MUST see this film! A Cinema must see for the pure glitz and glamour of the experience putting you right back the ‘Glory Years’ of Hollywood.
Originally written for Screen Relish. Thanks to them for the opportunity to write this piece.