State of Play

Let’s be honest, no film experience is quite as satisfying as a good thriller—and “State of Play” is an excellent thriller, in the corridors-of-power genre. Set in Washington’s political world, it gives us the shenanigans and the dark doings that confirm everything we suspect from that particular area of human endeavor.

Great, great acting by Russell Crowe. Ben Affleck’s congressman is appropriately wooden and noncommittal. This reviewer would only add that it may be time to give a rest to successive surprise endings that come at us, Russian-doll style, one after the other. Directors would do well to imitate legendary detectives of yore—Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot et al—who, at the end of the story, would seat everyone involved in a circle of chairs, look them sternly in the eye and proceed to tell them what was what and who did what to whom.

Nowadays, at the end of every thriller, when we think all avenues have been explored and we’ve figured out the whole mess… no, no, no, we had it all wrong. Actually, what happened was… but wait, there’s more… and more, and more. But that’s a small nit to pick in two very enjoyable hours.