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With: Bryan Cranston, Helen Mirren, Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Louis C.K., John Goodman, Stephen Root, Michael Stuhlbarg, Roger Bart, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Dave Maldonado, John Getz, David James Elliott, Alan Tudyk, Dean O’Gorman, Christian Berkel, Madison Wolfe
Written by: John McNamara, based on a book by Bruce Cook
Directed by: Jay Roach
MPAA Rating: R for language including some sexual references
Running Time: 124
Date: 11/06/2015
IMDB

Trumbo (2015)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Lonely Are the Brave

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This biopic could have fallen into all the usual traps, but Jay Roach directs John McNamara's smart, witty screenplay with a light touch, and the finished movie is both entertaining and educational. Set between the 1940s and the 1960s, the movie could have been a mere collection of highlights, but the filmmakers manage to create a vivid gallery of colorful supporting characters that contribute equally; in the lead, Bryan Cranston is marvelous — with an endless flow of crystalline dialogue — but it's not just a one-man show.

In 1947, screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) is wealthy and respected, when rumblings about his affiliation with the Communist Party begin to spread through Hollywood. Questioned by the House Un-American Activities Committee, Trumbo is arrested, and along with nine colleagues, blacklisted from working. After serving jail time, he writes Roman Holiday, and his friend Ian McLellan Hunter (Alan Tudyk) acts as a "front" to help sell it. Trumbo also goes to work for the low-budget producer Frank King (John Goodman), while his relationships with his wife (Diane Lane), family, and friends — Arlen Hird (Louis C.K.) and Edward G. Robinson (Michael Stuhlbarg) — are tested. Then, in 1960, two big movies come along that will change everything.

Trumbo deftly tells the story of the Communist witch hunts in a way that acknowledges their complexities and gray areas, while still labeling them, on the whole, as an act of pure evil. Roach gets this message across with a minimum of preaching, but still strongly enough to ignite passions. Yet the most memorable parts are the movie's many laughs, as Trumbo wryly regards the various situations he finds himself in. (See also: Trumbo [2007].

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