Women On Film: “Nothing But the Truth” – Susan Granger reviews

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Obviously inspired by the incarceration of Judith Miller, the former New York Times journalist, who in 2005 was jailed for contempt of court after she refused to cooperate with a grand jury investigating the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson as an undercover CIA operative, filmmaker Rod Lurie has crafted a timely political drama that tests the limits of journalistic integrity.

Rachel Armstrong (Kate Beckinsale) is an ambitious reporter for Washington-based Capital Sun-Times, a fictional newspaper. From an unidentified source, she discovers that her son Timmy’s (Preston Bailey) classmate’s mother, Erica Van Doren (Vera Farmiga), an Ambassador’s wife, is the CIA agent who challenged an administration-held belief that Venezuela was behind an attempted assassination of the U.S. President. Rachel’s story blows Erica’s cover, which galvanizes a federal prosecutor, Patton Dubois (Matt Dillon), into action, asserting that she’s a threat to homeland security. Despite the assistance of a top-notch lawyer, Albert Burnside (Alan Alda), Rachel is held in contempt and winds up in prison on charges of treason, while her sniveling husband (David Schwimmer) takes up with another, obviously less principled woman.

Best known as the “Underworld” vampire, Kate Beckinsale’s performance is a revelation in this melodramatic good vs. evil parable in which, eventually, the ‘unnamed source’ is revealed – and it’s a dandy surprise. So is having real-life, eminent First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams as the trial judge.

To his great credit, Rod Lurie is one of the few writer/directors who specialize in strong, intelligent protagonists, evidenced by Joan Allen in “The Contender” and Geena Davis in TV’s “Commander-in-Chief.” On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Nothing But the Truth” is a thoughtful, incendiary 7, stressing the ever-increasing threats to civil liberties in the name of national security.

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