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Movie: State of Play

“State of Play,” a blistering thriller set in the world of high-stakes investigative journalism, is a story poised on the brink of extinction. These days as more and more people turn to internet blogs and social networks for insta-news, across the globe major newspapers are simply vanishing. Hence, it is with a tinge of nostalgia that we enjoy watching this drama unfold, knowing it will be obsolete in less than a year as the big newspapers run their own obituaries.

Russell Crowe stars opposite Ben Affleck as two former college roommates. The pair, the former now an investigative journalist, the other a rising congressman, become entangled in a case of seemingly unrelated, brutal murders. Crowe plays Washington D.C. reporter Cal McAffrey, whose street smarts lead him to untangle a mystery of murder and collusion among some of the nation’s most promising political and corporate figures.

Robin Wright Penn and Ben Affleck in "State of Play."Robin Wright Penn and Ben Affleck in “State of Play.”

Director Kevin Macdonald (“The Last King of Scotland”) has streamlined the six-hour BBC mini-series source material into a taut two-hour thriller. Not only has he excised the element of nepotism between the newspaper chief and the cub reporter, but he also switched genders, to excellent effect.

Helen Mirren’s stunning turn as the paper’s acid-tongued, hard-bitten editor-in-chief recalls her equally exemplary work in the “Prime Suspect” TV series, while Rachel McAdams as the blogger-turned-reporter gives a performance where every gesture and intonation hits a perfect note. Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, and Russell Crowe in "State of Play."Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, and Russell Crowe in “State of Play.”Crowe turns in a spookily authentic performance as the shabby and curmudgeonly journo, while Affleck, who easily portrays the crisp and handsome rising political star, only falters when his facade crumbles and he’s required to plumb some emotional depths.

Macdonald has also assembled a stellar supporting cast, including Robin Wright Penn as Affleck’s beleaguered wife and Jason Bateman as a key source, and where even the bit-part mortician – played by Viola Davis – is an Oscar nominee.

State of Play is not to be missed.

Rated: PG-13
Stars: Russell Crowe, Helen Mirren, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, Jeff Daniels, Robin Wright Penn
Director: Kevin Macdonald

Studio/Official Site:

[Pauline Adamek is a Hollywood-based film, theater, and food critic who files for “FilmInk Australia,” “LA Daily News,” “Sun Community Newspapers,” as well as various websites under the “nom du net” Max Million.]

About Jenny Peters (168 Articles)
Jet Set Jen is the brainchild of Jenny Peters, a longtime freelance journalist whose career has spanned everything considered "Lifestyle" reporting, from movies and celebrities to fashion and fast cars, with plenty of food, wine and travel thrown in too. She currently contributes regularly to USA Today's,, New York Magazine, Coast Magazine, Bask Magazine and numerous other newspapers, magazines and websites worldwide. She is a founding and voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (, which annually honors the year's top films with the Critics' Choice Awards. Jenny and her crack cadre of reporters at Jet Set Jen offer up opinions, suggestions and insider scoops on the best that the world has to offer, to keep you on the cutting edge of that ever elusive pursuit of life, liberty, happiness – and fun, fun, fun.

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