Quietly riveting, crisply intelligent, and ethically uncompromising, Shattered Glass tells the fact-based story of the spectacularly fraudulent journalistic career of Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen), a hotshot writer for the New Republic ("the in-flight magazine on Air Force One") during the 1990s.
With unsettling plausibility, first-time director Billy Ray depicts Glass’s uncanny ability to insinuate himself to his coworkers while ingeniously covering his tracks, mounting a deception on such a scale his peers and superiors can scarcely comprehend it even when he’s practically caught red-handed.
Christensen brings a nerdy charisma and inscrutable calculation to the role of Stephen Glass, betraying no trace of the comparative woodenness of his Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones. But the film belongs to Peter Sarsgaard, who brilliantly portrays the magazine’s beleaguered new editor, distracted by office politics and reluctant to confront the popular, respected Glass.
Why did Glass do what he did? The film offers no explanation — a choice some have found unsatisfying. I disagree. Glass’s pattern of deceit is queasily persuasive; adding Catch Me If You Can psychologizing about his childhood or whatever would only diminish the film’s truthfulness, not enhance it. In the end, why Glass lied doesn’t really matter — only that he did.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.