Shattered Glass Review


Tim Harris, 2013
Mount San Antonio College


Tim Harris

Marcielle Brandler

English 68


Shattered Glass: Checking the Facts

            In the movie, Shattered Glass, The New Republic is the most prestigious magazine in the nation. Stephen Glass is the top writer for The New Republic. What does this mean to the viewer? It means that the agenda behind a person’s eyes is never truly known until he slips up, which is how this movie came to be. Shattered Glass was released in December of 2003, and directed by Billy Ray. It stars Hayden Christensen as Stephen Glass, Peter Sarsgaard, as Chuck Lane, and Chloe Sevigny, as Caitlin Avey. This drama was based on events that took place in May of 1998.

Stephen has risen to the top of a magazine known as The New Republic. That is where he amasses large amounts of praise, and notoriety from 41 stories he had written over the course of his time with the company. Appearing to be a very modest, but great writer, Stephen gains the respect of his peers as he makes his way to the position of Associate Editor. Charles Lane and Stephen were friends during their time at the magazine. During a period of tension at work, Stephen’s boss, the editor of The New Republic is terminated due to personal conflicts with his boss Marty Peretz. After Chief Editor Michael Kelly is terminated, Charles Lane is chosen to stand up and take charge of the editor position. Not long after this Stephen writes an article known as “Hack Heaven”.

Adam Penenberg, a tech writer for Forbes, is jokingly reprimanded for not covering the events that the “Hack Heaven” article was based on. Initial investigations by Penenberg had shown that the company, and the people involved never actually existed. When this is brought to Charles Lane’s attention, he conducts his own research to verify the claims. Stephen had met with Chuck multiple times to defend his story.

It wasn’t until Chuck discovered a link between Stephen and the voicemail of one of his sources that he decides to fire Stephen. Caitlin is Stephen’s girlfriend at the time, and she becomes very infuriated with Charles over his decision to fire Stephen. She believes that Chuck is trying to eliminate those loyal to Michael Kelly, but after a brief time Caitlin, and the other writers and editors research all of the pieces published by Stephen. They found that out of 41 stories, 27 are fabrications. A letter was soon released to the public, apologizing for all of the articles making it to print. Stephen later went on the law school and earned his law degree, he then published a book titled The Fabulist.

This film had many good things and a few bad things. The casting was done very well. Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of Stephen Glass was one of the best acting roles he has done outside of Star Wars. Christensen was able to display that meek and worried behavior that Glass was known for. By the same token, Peter Sarsgaard also gives a riveting performance as a slightly awkward but very professional Chuck Lane, showing his ability to display, not only lines on paper through emotion, but also showing his uncanny talent for making the viewer believe that he really is an editor for the most upscale magazine in the country. In a review of this performance, Louis Morgan writes:

Sarsgaard is very good as slowly Lane pushes harder on harder on Glass. At first Sarsgaard portrays just the right degree of reservation due to how the other workers view Glass. Slowly though Sarsgaard powerfully shows that Lane cannot hold back any more. His scene where he finally fires Glass confronting him directly is terrifically played by Sarsgaard portraying well the incredible disgust he feels at a man who entirely disregarded even the slightest notion of journalistic integrity. Sarsgaard directly fulfills the role of Charles Lane, who ends up being the moral center of the film, with a strength that slowly grows in a marvelous fashion during the course of the film  

                Unfortunately, not everything about the movie was fantastic.  The lack of any real type of soundtrack outside of random piano keys being struck for intense moments of conversation, took away from some things that could have been given a more emotionally charged feel. The camera operators also left a lot to be desired. With no big effects in the film, panning shots and extreme close ups were not a necessity. With that being said, it seems that steady shots or different angles were not very necessary either. Almost all angles throughout the movie were slightly off center character angles, which proved to be shaky at best.

With a few minor discrepancies related to cameras and angles this movie revealed a bit of a surprise. While most movie goers are apt to seeing jam-packed action-movies, or crazy twinkling vampire love, Shattered Glass delivers a great story with very little else needed to make it an entertaining journey through the mind of a pathological liar.

Works Cited

          Morgan, Louis. “Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2003: Peter Sarsgaard in Shattered Glass” Rev. of Shattered Glass, Billy Ray. 27 November 2012. Internet.