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Adam Driver Is On A Quest For The Truth In “The Report”

A cursory glance at the television these days, especially when the news is on, gives ample evidence of how complicated it is in the political world to try and seek out the truth. People and groups with different sorts of politics can see the same information and find different truths in it. However, right and wrong, on a moral level, remains static. That’s part of the appeal of the granular political drama The Report, which really digs in to the United States’ use of torture after September 11th. Opening this week, the Amazon Studios release is hoping to go from Sundance Film Festival prestige player to Academy Award nominee. The Report is a well executed procedural, with another excellent Adam Driver performance that’s wholly riveting. Suffice it to say, Amazon would do well to campaign this one heavily.

The movie is a dramatic thriller, looking back on recent American history. Chiefly, it focuses on the investigation into the CIA’s post 9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program. Under the direction of Senator Diane Feinstein (Annette Bening), Senate staffer Daniel J. Jones (Driver) begins looking into “enhanced interrogation techniques,” better known as torture, meticulously compiling a report on his findings. Almost everyone involved in his fact finding knows that the procedure is cruel and unusual punishment, along with being ineffective, but proving it with government documents proves to be a challenge. As Jones sifts through paperwork, we see how the program was established, leading to even more horrors at what our own government is capable of doing, purportedly in our name. Scott Z. Burns writes and directs, with cinematography from Eigil Bryld, along with a score by David Wingo. Supporting players include Michael C. Hall, Jon Hamm, Ted Levine, Jennifer Morrison, Tim Blake Nelson, Matthew Rhys, Scott Shepherd, Corey Stoll, Maura Tierney, and plenty more.

Adam Driver is a picture of sober determination here. His performance is far less showy than in Marriage Story, but is nearly as strong. With a single minded focus, his Daniel Jones crusades for accountability. He’s the best part of this, but the rock solid screenplay by Scott Z. Burns also gets high marks. Burns the director is not flashy and arguably could work on his pacing a bit, but his script is tremendous. After the misfire of The Laundromat, this is a definite course correction. The bigger a political junkie you are, the more little details and unheralded names you’ll get, but even if you don’t care about politics, this is an essential tale being told.

The Report has the potential to upset. Fingers are pointed and blame is placed on both sides of the aisle. Across the political spectrum, there was a failure to quickly deal with these enhanced interrogation techniques. The movie leans in to how this happened, why this happened, and what it took to actually learn the truth. Burns’ commitment to this is seen through the committed turn by Driver, but every frame of this picture is dedicated to asking and answering questions, even when no answer exists, or the one that exists isn’t the one we wished for. It’s rather audacious in that aspect, and gives off a definite air of importance.

Starting this weekend, audiences to can see another Oscar hopeful from Amazon Studios when The Report opens up. It’s going to be in limited release tomorrow, with expansions to come, before streaming on Amazon Prime on November 29th. This is a powerful film that not just solidifies how tremendous an actor Driver is, but how talented a storyteller Burns is. Plus, if you’re a Bening fan, while she doesn’t have a showy role, she’s rock solid as always. One of Sundance’s best movies this year is now one of the top releases this month. Whether you see it in cinemas or at home, make sure you see it. Anyone with a hunger for the truth will appreciate what Burns, Driver, and everyone involved here has pulled off.

Be sure to check out The Report, in theaters beginning on Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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