Sunday, June 01, 2008

Movie review: All the President's Men

Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Woodward & Bernstein, two reporters from the Washington Post who, through dogged determination, and the help of a secret government informant known as "Deep Throat," uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that eventually lead to the resignation of President Nixon.

Based on the book of the same name, this follows the journalistic trail with Woodward and Bernstein from right after the Watergate break-in as they first figure "something must be up," until they uncover how far "up" things really go.

It's all about the reporters, and the reporting. It's a thriller in an unconventional sense. The tension doesn't come from fear of a person, group or thing, but from the fear that someone else will get the "scoop" on the story before they have all their facts confirmed. It's the excitement of uncovering a huge cover-up, all the way through the ranks to the Presidency, piece by stingy piece. It's the hoops and coaxing and manipulation required to get even the tiniest bit of unsubstantiated information, and then doing the whole thing over again with someone else to get corroboration. With each new confirmation there's the fear that they won't get to the next step.

Redford and Hoffman are great together. They play off each other well, and are given their own scenes, which they each hold competently. The pacing is good, and it's interesting to watch it all come together.

I stayed away from this film for a long time, because it sounded tedious. It could have been, but the actors and directors won't let it be. They're as caught up as the real Woodward and Bernstein were, and as we become.

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