How far would you go to make a name for yourself? Would you deceive the ones who believe in you? Would you lie to those that trusted you? In the life of a journalist, your entire career relies on the solidity of your sources. Stephen Glass, one time reporter for The New Republic was praised for his work, just for it to be a mere fabrication of his imagination. The 2003 film “Shattered Glass,” written and directed by Billy Ray, follows Glass’ rise and fall, within his time at the publication. Shattered Glass is a good movie that delivers but may leave you scratching your head.
Hayden Christensen [Star Wars Episodes I & III, The Virgin Suicides] plays Glass at the height of his career at age 24. Christensen greatly captures Glass’ manipulative nature as he weaves his way through his office and into the pages of the in flight magazine of Air Force One. Glass’ eludes two editors, a slew of co-workers and thousands that regularly read his work, only to be stopped short by Forbes online publication.
Any journalist who has seen this movie wouldn’t think for a second to pull a move anywhere remotely close to Glass’. The film shows intently that those who do wrong, will be punished. Not by literally death, but the death of your career and the future you hope to have. It casts morals upon the audience like an Aesop fable, minus any talking animals. Glass is covering up lies with greater lies before falling on his own sword in front of those that respected him the most.
The only snag in the movie has is it leaves a feeling of what happens now? Ray’s screenplay is based on Buzz Bissinger’s article that was published just after the discovery of Glass’ deception, and is detailed from beginning to end. But we see Glass being fired and meet with lawyers, but not what his life becomes afterward. Are we to infer that his life hit the crapper afterward? Or can we imagine that a pathological liar can find light at the end of the tunnel? A shadow is blanketed over the flick making us believe that it is possible to grow from the mud. The final shots show Glass alone, but whole. You aren’t shown his life to follow (that is if you skip out on the documentary that comes with the DVD).
Either way this star cast (Peter Sarsgaard, Chloe Sevigny and Hank Azaria to name a few), displays what it is like to work for a notable magazine. Sarsgaard received several awards for his capturing of Charles Lane, the Editor In Chief of The New Republic at the time Glass was revealed. His no-nonsense, thick-skinned attitude is visible even when it seems as if the entire office has turned against him. When his workers threaten to quit is Glass is disciplined, Lane maintains a cool-head, which has you rooting for his as the pure one to battle opposite Glass’ lies.
All in all, Glass’ story is not only a cautionary to journalists, but to anyone in a field that require original creativity. Either break a sweat or find a new profession.