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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Nothing but the Truth captivates

Published: December 5, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

Squeezed by limited seating, the Program of Film Studies premiered Nothing but the Truth to a captivated audience of about 300.

Inspired by the Valerie Plame/Judith Miller incident in 2005, writer and director, Rod Lurie, sets his film on the premise that a reporter (Kate Beckinsale) outs CIA agent (Vera Farmiga) through a newspaper article. Rather than keep fidelity to the incident that inspired him, Lurie fictionalizes the characters and events in his film to focus on the issues of government power and the rights of the press and how they clash on their stances of the First Amendment.

Throughout the movie, a special prosecutor (Matt Dillon) relentlessly harasses Beckinsale’s character, Rachel Armstrong, to reveal her source, who leaked top secret information about the government—a federal crime of National Security. Armstrong holds steadfast to her principles of confidentiality—a legal right for journalists—but pays the price with prison time.

As the plot deepens, the audience is kept hanging onto questions of if and when Armstrong will reveal her source and who the source is. Hints about the source’s identity are sprinkled everywhere along the gripping plot, although they are well masked until the twist at the end, and will certainly bring viewers back to watch the film again.

Nothing but the Truth provokes issues concerning the press and powers of the government but leaves us to resolve those issues using our own positions and ethics. Lurie shows great writing in the script with thrilling entertainment, quotable phrases, and memorable speeches especially from Alan Alda. Alda plays a lawyer defending Armstrong’s case and delivers one of the most powerful speeches in the film. As a fan favorite, his first appearance onscreen drew applause from the audience.

A novelty of the film came from the personality of Beckinsale’s character Rachel Armstrong. Armstrong first introduces her caring motherly side, but quickly displays her strong work ethic and passion for reporting. She only grows stronger in the movie with her determinism holding her to the principles for which she stands. Armstrong separates herself from other women in leading roles due to her strength and commitment. The CIA agent, Erica Van Doren, even speaks of Armstrong as a “water-walker” in that she can get by smoothly even in deep situations.

Delivering so much suspense and entertainment, Nothing but the Truth is truly a treat to see.