Shattered Glass (2003) Review

  • Year: 2003
  • Directed by: Billy Ray
  • Starring: Hayden Christensen, Hank Azaria, Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Steve Zahn
  • Written by: Billy Ray

I generally find cutesy titles distasteful, but I’ll let it slide here, because the film itself is actually quite good. Shattered Glass is based on the true story of Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen), a young, hot-shot writer for The New Republic in Washington D.C. He rose to fame quickly over his three years with the publication by partially or completely concocting his stories. Everything goes relatively without a hitch, until another publication starts researching one of Glass’ stories. The film covers Glass’ desperate attempts to keep from being found out.

There’s a lot to like here. The writing is rock solid. Billy Ray – who also directed the feature – does an elegant job of misleading the audience and keeping them on the fence as to whether or not Glass actually did fabricate his stories (that is, if you aren’t already familiar with the real story). Only once does Ray play dirty, using an “it was all a dream” convention, but, given the character of Glass, it works out. Also, a sufficient amount of the film is dedicated to the journalism process, giving the movie a believable authority and adding quite a bit of depth to the plot as a whole. As a writer, it was also nice to see the bits where writers fought for bylines or asked for criticisms. All in all, the script is highly nuanced.

The acting is also very well done. I haven’t been a fan of Hayden Christensen since I saw him in the Star Wars prequels, but I see now that he can hold his own when the writing is there to support him. Although, I do have to say that at times he seemed to channel Woody Allen or Jerry Lewis, but that might be an ignorant observation since the real Glass might have behaved that way, too. The rest of the cast delivered serviceable performances as well. It’s always a pleasure to see recognizable faces be 100 percent committed to their small roles.

The direction here is very understated, which is probably for the best. The story and plot are compelling enough on their own; it doesn’t need heavy-handed direction to drive home the point. Shattered Glass is smart and exciting – two traits that Stephen Glass tried to incorporate in all of his stories. Definitely worth checking out.