Shattered Glass is based on the real life drama and controversy surrounding Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen), a young and prominent writer for the The New Republic. The film recounts the downfall of Stephen Glass, as he was responsible for turning in dozens of phony, false and outrageous stories for his company in the hopes of furthering his career. His senior editor and rival journalist Charles Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) becomes suspicious of the authenticity of Glass’s articles and launches an independent investigation, which ultimately leads to Glass’s pitfall.
First of all I love the title of this film; shattered glass. A brilliant play on words. One could interpret the title as a metaphorical representation of our main character; Stephen Glass. The title implies the fragility of Stephen Glass by comparing him to a material known for its fragile and brittle nature; glass. Stephen Glass was portrayed to be extremely fragile and not suited to sudden changes or assaults (just like glass). The results of such traumas led to the individual becoming very angry and unpredictable just like in the movie. On the other hand, “glass” in shattered glass could be in direct reference to Stephen’s surname. Therefore the title could also be interpreted as a reference to the methodical degradation and destruction of Stephen Glass’ career.
Alright, so I went into a bit of an “high school English essay mode” above, but that was just to point out the ingenuity behind the writing and execution of this movie. Shattered Glass is a must watch film because beyond our main character and the atrocities that he committed, this movie could not be more relevant to the current state of our media and entertainment industry. With all the misinformation and accusations of “fake news”, journalism is being scrutinized to its core. Shattered Glass explores all of these realities through a gripping and enthralling storyline that will change your perspective on how to read news and decide on whether an article is authentic or not.
Hayden Christensen and Peter Sarsgaard deliver the performances of their lifetime. Their down to earth and realistic representations of these characters made me feel like I was spying on the real events occurring at that newspaper during that time period. Seriously, Hayden Christensen’s performance in this film has made me appreciate him so much more as a performer. Its really a shame that his career was ruined because of his god awful performances in the Star Wars prequels. They are not an accurate representation of his acting capabilities. This film also fascinated me because it delved into the procedural aspects of contemporary journalism. Namely, the process behind publishing an article, deciding whether an article’s sources are credible are not and how one can “cheat” the system by publishing articles with no credible sources.
Shattered Glass also has one of the most memorable final scenes I have seen in a movie in recent times. The final scene perfectly wraps up Stephen Glass’s character arc and sums up his all of his motivations. But most of all, I loved the final scene because it ends with the same monologue that the film opens with. The great thing behind this monologue is that your interpretation of it will change from when you first hear it (in the beginning of the movie) to when you hear it again (in the final scene of the movie). Here is a short exempt of it:
Glass: Journalism is the art of capturing behavior and you have to know who you’re writing for, you have to know what you’re good at. I record what people do and I find what moves them what scares them and I write that down. That way they’re the ones telling the story.
Overall, I am quite shell-shocked by the fact that this film isn’t brought up or discussed as much as it should be. Let there be no doubt that Shattered Glass is the best movie about journalism since All the Presidents Men. Its screenplay is riveting. Its characters are written to mirror their real life personas to the nth degree. The ideas and themes that this movie discusses are beyond its time and could not be more relevant today. Anyone who has an interest or hobby in watching/reading the news has to watch this film.