State of Play is Hollywood’s take on the BBC drama of the same name – however before that has you reaching for the mind bleach at the prospect of another Coupling (so bad that the American version only broadcast four of the eleven episodes made) or even worse, Thunderbirds – bear in mind that this seems to have been treated with respect and hasn’t been sanitised. Yes, there are major plots cut from it – but when you try to shoe-horn six hours of television into two hours of film some things are going to have to suffer. Thankfully everything that made the TV series so good (the labyrinthine plot, the interaction of the principal characters) remains. Also the change from oil as the big bad is an interesting one.
So, it’s well plotted, the direction is good (indeed excellent at times) and it’s very well acted from a solid ensemble cast – including Ben Affleck. Plenty to recommend it then.
However, none of this is the most interesting thing about the film nor the one aspect that makes it most worth recommendation – no, the most interesting thing is that like Fincher’s Zodiac this is an attempt to make a seventies style political thriller using current technology, and like that (although not taken to the near genius levels that that film manages) it succeeds. Everything about the film reminds the viewer of films such as The Parallax View and All The Presidents Men, that slightly dirty film stock finish that seeps into the tone of the film, and most interesting the understanding that not everyone is an action superstar able to shrug of gunshots (Crowe is in “Insider” mode rather than “Maximus” mode here”) bringing the whole thing down to Earth even as the plot moves further from reality.
Recommended for those who like political thrillers with a side order of social commentary.