Nothing But the Truth is a political drama that takes it’s inspiration from the ‘Plamegate’ case. It deals with the heady themes of journalistic freedom and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution vs. national security, and has a tight script and excellent performances. The film was denied a cinematic release by it’s distributor filing for bankruptcy, and is far above the usual direct-to-DVD quality.
Rachel Armstrong (Kate Beckinsale), a political correspondent with the Washing D.C. newspaper the Capitol Sun-Times, publishes an article that exposes Erica Van Doren (Vera Farmiga) as a CIA agent and blames the US president for ignoring her findings when taking Military action against another country. This article quickly plunges both their lives into chaos as the government brings in Special Prosecutor Patton Dubois (Matt Dillon) to find the source of the leak in the CIA. Rachel refuses to give up her sources and her editor Bonnie Benjamin (Angela Bassett) secures the services of attorney Albert Burnside (Alan Alda) to represent her. since this is deemed a matter of national security, Rachel is reprimanded to custody and her incarceration affects the lives of, and her relationship with, her husband and son.
Written and directed by Rod Lurie, this film has an excellent script maintains high tension, and treats characters on both sides of the issue well. Kate Beckinsale is very good, portraying a woman holding onto her principals when undergoing incredible hardships. Similarly, Matt Dillon plays Dubois as a man doing the right thing, trying to protect his country and it’s citizens, and not as the sneering antagonist the character could have become. Vera Farmiga is likewise believable as a woman whose life as been thrown into turmoil by her exposure as a CIA agent (however, it took me a few seconds to realise that in this film, CIA agent did not mean ‘Steven Segal-style superhero’, and is probably a far more accurate representation of what 95% of people employed by the CIA actually are). Alan Alda is excellent as the high-priced Washington attorney defending Rachel, he also gets the best single speech of the film, summing up the situation for the Supreme Court.
The film has an excellent supporting cast, including actors such as David Schwimmer(in a rare but welcome dramatic performance), Angela Bassett and Noah Wyle.
While the film seems to come down on the freedom of press side of the argument (no one on the national security side gets a speech as excellent as Alan Alda’s), the film does not paint them as cartoon villains and it’s greatest strength is how well it explains the situation and the reasons for the characters actions. This is a powerful drama, with strong performances, an excellent script and a thought-provoking plot.