Bryan Cranston is starring in “Trumbo,” his first series large screen drama since his groundbreaking work in “Breaking Bad.” Directed by Jay Roach, “Trumbo,” is a biopic that tells the story of blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo. The film spans a thirty year period in which Cranston as Trumbo goes from the top paid Hollywood writer to being imprisoned after refusing to answer questions by the Congressional Committee of Un-American Activities.
“Trumbo,” features Cranston’s ability to transcend into another character as he plays the Communist writer that just wanted to do his job and create good stories. During his blacklisted years, after being imprisoned, Trumbo pens two movies under other names that ultimately win Academy Awards – the two being “Roman Holiday,” and “The Brave One.”
But most of the time, Trumbo works on sub-par “B” movies to keep his family afloat financially. The work is never-ending and leads Trumbo to transform from a happy family guy to a man that is too difficult to handle. His wife Cleo (Diane Lane) and oldest daughter Niki (Elle Fanning) play a major role in helping Trumbo during the blacklisted years.
Causing the most rifts in Trumbo’s life is gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren), who assumes the role of arch nemesis to Trumbo’s character throughout the film.
There are a chock-full of performances, besides Cranston and Mirren. Louis C. K. plays Trumbo’s friend and blacklisted writer Arlen Herd (a composite character). Michael Stuhlbarg plays a very convincing Edward G. Robinson and David James Elliott takes on playing John Wayne – a task that took a lot of bravery to undertake, that in the end was quite convincing.
“Trumbo” has a solid and well-written script by John McNamara (TV’s “Aquarius”), which was adapted from the book written by Bruce Cook. As director, Jay Roach does what any fine director does, he allows his top-notch performers do what they know to do – which is bring the characters in “Trumbo,” full to life.
The story itself takes on the entire blacklisting era in full and by showing it from Trumbo’s perspective, makes the story more personal. But with a movie based in Hollywood for a thirty year period, there are plenty times taken in the film for some folly and good laughs as well. Many of the humorous moments come from Cranston playing “Trumbo.”
“Trumbo,” was a wise move on Cranston’s part to pick as his first dramatic film since his “Breaking Bad.” work. It gives him the platform to create Trumbo all over again, and it is very likely Cranston will sail through award season, with nominations from the Golden Globe Awards, the SAG Awards and ultimately an Oscar nomination. It’s hard to imagine that Cranston however, will be able to compete with Leonardo DiCaprio this year – who is a shoo-in to win the Best Actor Oscar for his role in “The Revenant.”
“Trumbo,” has other award-worthy items to note. John McNamara deserves attention for his witty and smart screenplay. Helen Mirren just might get some attention for her supporting work as Hedda Hopper, and finally the film just may also get some notice for the wardrobe – just for the myriad of hats worn by Mirren deserve some credit.
“Trumbo,” is an excellent film that explores a historical part of Hollywood in a way that accessible to the average viewer that never stops entertaining.
“Trumbo” is rated R for language including some sexual references and has a run-time of 124 minutes.