Rod Lurie | 2008 | 108 mins | USA
An American political drama starring Kate Beckinsale and David Schwimmer is pretty much the complete opposite of what I like to see at TIFF, but the screening I wanted to get into was sold out, so I decided to give Rod Lurie (Resurrecting the Champ, The Contender) a chance to not suck.
Very loosely based on the real case of Valerie Plame, whose status as a CIA agent was exposed in the media after her husband (a US Ambassador) wrote a New York Times piece charging the Bush administration with manipulating their intel to justify invading Iraq.
In the film, Iraq has been replaced with Venezuela, and reporter Rachel Armstrong (played by Kate Beckinsale) goes to prison to protect her source. Beckinsale’s efforts will undoubtedly be touted as a real ‘breakout performance’, but I actually preferred Vera Farmiga’s portrayal of CIA soccer mom Erica Van Doren.
Unfortunately, if you’re paying one iota of attention to anything happening on screen, you’ll figure out the identity of the mysterious source within the first 15 minutes, and the rest of the film will seem like a clumsy martyrdom story in which a principled woman is surrounded by cold hearted zealots who, if they only knew what she was doing it for …
Matt Dillon is actually pretty alright as the special prosecutor, but the real accolades belong to Alan Alda, the defense attorney whose absurd non-sequitur expressions are the only glimmers of true entertainment in the film.
David Schwimmer plays Beckinsale’s spineless disappointment of a husband. He’s perfect for the role. Wait for this one on DVD, if you're a Matt Dillon completist.