The Hollywood blacklisting that led to the imprisonment of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was a travesty, and it’s high time somebody made a movie about it. Director Jay Roach eschews his comedy-making skin for this riveting look into the tribulations Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) and fellow artists faced during the Red Scare early days of the Cold War.
Cranston does his best movie work yet as Trumbo, a confessed member of the communist party who did jail time and lost work due to his beliefs. He eventually started writing screenplays anonymously, even winning an Oscar under a different name.
The film’s best scenes involve Cranston and none other than Louis C.K. as writer Arlen Hird (a fictional composite character), who marvel at the injustices bestowed upon them. The film does a nice job of capturing the paranoia of the times, with nice touches such as John Wayne (David James Elliot) throwing his weight around, and Diane Lane as Cleo, Trumbo’s very patient wife. The film does a nice job balancing truth and fiction, and Cranston is marvelous.
Also, let it be said that C.K. continues to show surprising prowess as an actor. He’s building up an impressive resume for a guy who insists he can’t act.