Several years before the "Blair Affair" rocked the New York Times to its venerable foundations, there was the case of Stephen Glass, one-time associate editor at the New Republic and a contributing writer to publications as varied as Harper's, George and Rolling Stone. Like Jayson Blair, Glass had also been caught cooking stories, but his fall from grace at TNR, a political weekly that proudly claims to be "the in-flight magazine of Air Force One," was even more spectacular. Based on Buzz Bissinger's 1998 article for Vanity Fair magazine, this brisk, brilliantly told version of events is framed by Glass's (Hayden Christensen) appearance before a journalism class at his old high school. Hailed as a hometown hero, the 24-year-old Glass imparts the secrets of his success, much of which he attributes to his ingratiating humility in a profession filled with egomaniacs. But as the film flashes back to the spring of 1998, we see that his meteoric rise also had a lot to do with the nature of his stories, vividly pitched during the magazine's otherwise dull editorial meetings. Instead of boring old policy pieces that are the magazine's usual fare, Glass brings in story ideas brimming with humor and colorful characters — stuff that's almost too good to be true. In "Spring Breakdown," Glass sneaks into a Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida and reports on binge drinking, prostitutes and young Republicans. In "Hacker Heaven," he writes about a teenage hacker who'd been extorting money, Miatas and priceless comic books from a large software firm. But when a reporter (Steve Zahn) from Forbes' new online publication warns TNR's editor Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) that they'll be running a story about how very little about "Hacker Heaven" appears to be true, Glass's brilliant career comes to a screeching halt. It's almost inconceivable how Glass could have gotten away with so much, but the movie makes a convincing case for how Glass used office politics, the good faith of his editors and his own personal charisma to get away with the worst offenses a journalist could commit. While closely following the facts, the film unfolds like a thriller, and the acting is equally exciting. If Christensen's wooden turn in STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES was one of that movie's biggest disappointments, his extraordinary performance here comes as a revelation. With his male-model looks hidden behind a pair of geeky glasses and a bad haircut, Christensen is Stephen Glass, and a very good actor indeed.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Several years before the "Blair Affair" rocked the New York Times to its venerable foundations, there was the case of Stephen Glass, one-time associate editor at the New Republic and a contributing writer to publications as varied as Harper's, George and R… (more)