Director: Jay Roach.
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Elle Fanning, John Goodman, Michael Stuhlbarg, Louis C. K.
Released: DVD/Blu-Ray – 21/6/2016
Reviewed by: Stu Laurie.
The Bryan Cranston led biopic film Trumbo has been released this week on Blu-Ray and DVD. Here, our DVD addict Stu Laurie reviews the Blu-Ray release.
Bryan Cranston has come a long way since his role as the lacklustre, goofy Dad to Malcolm in the Middle. A role in Breaking Bad, one of the most highly praised, award winning TV shows in history propelled him into the Hollywood scene and a variety of leading roles followed. One of these was the lead role in the screenwriting biopic, Trumbo.
Trumbo almost passed under the Hollywood radar. Whilst Bryan Cranston was nominated for an Oscar and a multitude of other awards for his performance, the film didn’t really make waves in terms of the wider cinematic world. This is unfortunate, because the film is well written, well produced and incredibly well acted, despite feeling a little long winded.
Trumbo focuses on the career of Dalton Trumbo (Cranston), a Hollywood screenwriter in the 40’s and 50’s. At the peak of his career, in 1947 Trumbo was THE screenwriter in Hollywood. Everything comes crashing down around him when he, and a selection of other screenwriters, are blacklisted for their communist leanings. They are cast out. Unemployable. Until Trumbo hits upon an idea to turn the Blacklist upside down and prove its absurdity by finding a way to win two Academy Awards whilst still on the Blacklist.
Trumbo is a slow burner, and a long burner. At just over 2 hours running time there are points where interest does wane slightly. There are scenes and points they do little for the propulsion of the plot, they feel more like filler than being essential to the story.
The saving grace here is Cranston. His performance is utterly outstanding. He is likeable to Tom Hanks, in that he takes on board a character and embodies it utterly. Not only does he develop a voice for the character but the nuances of his mannerisms are exceptional. The way he looks over his glasses, how he holds his posture and how he holds his cigarette all simply ooze character development.
The supporting cast each give strong performances. Diane Lane is a pleasure to watch as the strong matriarch of the Trumbo family, standing by her husband thick and thin whilst acting as the glue that keeps the family together. Helen Mirren is glorious as ever, through her character here isn’t as strong as other performances.
John Goodman is a delight playing the eccentric and blatantly honest movie producer Frank King. Elle Fanning is quickly taking over her sister Dakota in terms of skill and ability, offering a performance that is innocent yet strong and endearing.
The Blu-Ray itself offers a well thought out slipcase and cover, yet the content of the disc has very little to offer. There is a look at Dalton Trumbo himself, and a look at Bryan Cranston becoming Trumbo. Both of these features are severely lacking in content. This is hugely disappointing given how much controversy surrounded the subject matter at the time it occurred, and how much information must be available that could have been included.
There is no insight into the story behind the script, no mention of the book that the film is based on and very little insight into the character himself. Both Diane Lane and Bryan Cranston offer a little into their respective characters but that is all.
As an overall package the Blu-Ray is slightly disappointing. The film itself is an interesting look at a dark time in Hollywood’s history, if you can stand the long run time. The extra’s are not worth watching, though if you do you will only have wasted about fifteen minutes.