The Report Review TIFF 2019

The Plot

An idealistic senate staffer is tasked with helming an investigation into the CIA’s detention and interrogation program launched in the wake of 9/11. Finding himself locked in a battle to discover harsh truths and share them with the world.

The Good

Adam Driver has emerged as one of the most redeeming features of the divisive new star wars trilogy. In the report the turns those considerable dramatic talents to an even more contentious subject matter in examining the complex aftermath of 9/11. As always he is an arresting on screen presence and he does his very best to convince an audience to share in his character’s earnest passion for the truth.

It is immediately clear that Driver has a very difficult task to maintain audience interest in a character who literally spends years drudging through CIA paperwork and virtually alone. Under the circumstances Driver does the best he possibly can to make that exercise feel urgent and compelling.

Beyond Driver’s own talents the film finds a host of familiar faces like Jon Hamm, Corey Stoll and Annette Benning willing to share the burden of fleshing out this overly familiar history on screen. Their collective star power helps keep audiences interested in spite of their likely pre-existing answers to all the questions the film seeks to ask.

The Bad

Audiences may understandably find their appetite for dwelling on this difficult period of modern history has waned considerably as the years have passed. By now most people already have well entrenched views about the actions of nations and intelligence communities around the world in the wake of 9/11. People will already either view these events as justified measures to fight unprecedented dangers or as misguided acts of evil in their own right. Little if anything this particular film has to offer will change those fixed opinions.

With nearly a decade of public debate, partisan political squabbling, endless investigations and introspective films about this subject, all that has really been accomplished is weariness and a growing sense of jaded apathy.

In a world beset by new problems, new leaders and new controversies audiences may already feel long disconnected from events already consigned to history books. Absent any new information or the ability to create meaningful sentiment there’s sadly little rewards to be found for any of the film’s well intentioned efforts.

At best the film is a weary rehash of familiar history, at worst the fiercely partisan nature of American political tribes means that the film simply cannot avoid painting Bush era republicans as unethical war criminals and Democrats as the de facto champions of truth and accountability. An obvious oversimplification of a murky political landscape where both sides are equally tarnished by rampant self-interest and amoral political expediency over real principles.

The Ugly Truth

The Report is another hand wringing look at a dark and divisive period of modern history that awkwardly feels too current to be rediscovered but increasingly irrelevant to the fast paced drama of

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