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Shattered Glass

Hayden Christensen Plays Another Misguided Prodigy

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating

By Jürgen Fauth

Shattered Glass Hayden Christensen

Hayden Christensen as Stephen Glass

It seems curious that the same month should see the release of both "Veronica Guerin" and "Shattered Glass." In a time when journalistic integrity seems more and more a function of shareholder interest, movies concerned with the standards and duties of the Fourth Estate are welcome indeed.

While Joel Schumacher's "Veronica Guerin" upholds the memory of the assassinated Irish journalist and her principled fight against Dublin druglords, "Shattered Glass" takes a serious look at the other end of the moral spectrum: Stephen Glass was the 26-year-old reporter who disgraced The New Republic in 1998 by publishing a series of fictive articles--eight years before Jayson Blair invented his facts on the front page of the New York Times.

In the role of the misguided prodigy journalist is Hayden Christensen, otherwise known as the angry teenager who will grow up to become Darth Vader. Once again, Christensen's aggressive intelligence serves him well in a morally slippery role. His transformation from a lovable, flustered star reporter into a compulsive liar addicted to the thrill of acclaim is the real reason to see "Shattered Glass."

As a morality tale, the film works fine, but its pacing could have stood a little sexing up: it is as well-intentioned and stodgy as the magazine at its center. Once Glass's lies are discovered, there is nowhere for the film to go, and the parallel transformation of Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) from disliked editor to unlikely hero has to serve as thin emotional payoff. Chloe Sevigny, Melanie Lynskey, and Hank Azaria complete the cast, which makes the day-to-day routines of a policy journal eminently watchable.

Of course, the film didn't have to stop where it did. Its real third act is still happening: Just this spring, Stephen Glass published a novel about his time at the New Republic, in the tradition of the tell-all accounts which are usually enough to attain redemption in the public eye.

If only Veronica Guerin had that option.

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