Every once in a while, something that’s thoroughly unspectacular but warmly and ably put together comes along and reminds you how a juicy story, a game cast and some serious old-timer charm can go a long way. During the Cold War, legendary screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (played by Cranston) and his industry friends were reported, jailed and blacklisted for their leftist beliefs. Facing ceaseless persecution from conservatives like John Wayne, Ronald Reagan and columnist Hedda Hopper (Mirren), who went out of their way to rid Hollywood of traitors, i.e. commies, Trumbo resorted to some extreme measures to keep on writing and won two Oscars while no one was looking. Proper to a fault, Roach's mild, easily digestible biopic won't set off any fireworks, but its slick style paired with a rather incredible life full of stranger-than-fiction twists has no trouble engaging you from start to poised, poignant finish. Without banging on drums of self-importance, it convincingly recreates – against the frolicsome backdrop of moviemaking – an oppressive atmosphere under which talents suffocated and liberties perished, and in so doing pays a modest but heartfelt homage to the man behind such classics as Roman Holiday and Spartacus.
Trumbo | Directed by: Jay Roach (USA 2015) with Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren. Starts March 10.