Little Boy Lost
"Shattered Glass" tells the story of journalist Stephen Glass who became the youngest writer for "The New Republic" from 1995 - 1998 but a journalist who fabricated his stories. Creating fictitious stories, names, websites, business cards and phone messages 27 out of 41 of his articles were found to have been fabricated in someway managing to slip under the radar thanks to a gap in the fact checking process and his little boy lost act which he played upon to be popular. That is until one story of a fabricated hacker comes to the attention of an online journalist who finds that nothing he wrote was true.
Here in the UK the name Stephen Glass probably means less to most than it does in America, maybe even in America his name is not that well known except within the press industry. It means that whilst I read that "Shattered Glass" was based upon a true story I had never heard of that story or the fabricated articles which Stephen Glass wrote. But that didn't bother me because "Shattered Glass" sounded like a scam movie, a story about one man basically pulling a hustle and in many ways that is exactly what it is.
Now what is interesting about "Shattered Glass" is that we basically have 3 elements all interweaving to create this engrossing drama. The first of these elements if Glass's fictitious story about a hacker and more importantly the discovery by an online reporter that it is totally fabricated. We have this entertaining drama of watching Glass try to squirm his way out of the mess, providing fabricated notes, creating a fictitious website and basically denying any claims that he lied. Praise goes to Hayden Christensen through out this for delivering such a fascinating portrayal of this young man and as his lies come tumbling down you can sense the panic and almost the increased heartbeat as he has no way out.
That praise for Christensen extends to the whole movie because his portrayal of Glass is fascinating even before we get to the point where his lies are blown wide open. We watch as early on he goes out of the way to be popular with everyone he works with; complimenting a secretary on her lipstick, remembering a fellow writer dislikes warm soda. But more importantly playing on his youth and a sense of insecurity, a little boy lost sort of thing to make people, especially women want to protect and stand up for him. It is such a brilliantly written character that whilst we never get a clear motive for why Glass chose to fabricate stories you get a sense that he desired attention and to get that he had to have the big scoop.
This leads to the next element of "Shattered Glass" because we also get the story of Chuck Lane who took over as editor after the popular Michael Kelly was fired. Everything ties in so neatly to this because with Kelly having been so popular Chuck has to deal with a lot of resentment and when he begins to question Glass's stories that resentment increases as the staff think he has a vendetta against those who championed Kelly. This side of the movie could have ended up underwritten but it doesn't and it makes it a complete story which gives us characters, dilemmas and a scam uncovered. It also gives us a restrained but perfectly so performance from Peter Sarsgaard who is as spot on as Chuck as Christensen is as Glass.
What this all boils down to is that "Shattered Glass" is an entertaining and interesting con movie with well written characters and some surprisingly good performances. In fact it is so good that even when you don't know the true story it is based upon it still manages to get you hooked within the first few minutes and keeps you till the credits roll.