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December 2008

by Melissa Walters


Studio: Yari Film Group
Director: Rod Lurie
Screenwriter: Rod Lurie
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Matt Dillon, Alan Alda, Vera Farmiga, Harry Lennix, David Schwimmer, Angela Bassett, Noah Wyle
Rating: R (for language, some sexual material and a scene of violence)


Rachel Armstrong (Kate Beckinsale), a reporter on the national desk for the Sun Times, happens upon a story of political scandal involving an unjustified United States attack upon Venezuela. Publishing the story will earn her a Pulitzer Prize nomination but at the expense of losing her freedom. Rachel divulges the identity of covert CIA operative Erica Van Doren (Vera Farmiga), whose investigation in Venezuela was the basis for her story. Less than forty-eight hours after the story is published, she is confronted by special prosecutor Patton Dubois (Matt Dillon) who advises that national security has been implicated and threatens the consequences of refusing to reveal her source.

Despite the efforts of her well connected attorney, Albert Burnside (Alan Alda), Rachel is imprisoned for contempt of a court after asserting her First Amendment rights to protect her source. Scrutinized for prioritizing the security of someone who committed treason over her role as wife and mother, Rachel nevertheless stands her grounds for her principles, taking her battle all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

Written and directed by Rod Lurie and inspired by events surrounding former CIA operative Valerie Plame, the story is controversial and well told. Its themes; politics, press, principles and last, but not least, inspirational women, is the same formula that garnered Lurie accolades for The Contender. Lurie’s cast of veteran performers does not disappoint. Vera Farmiga and Angela Basset were impressive in their supporting roles, not to be overshadowed by Kate Bekinsale’s emotional performance, arguably the best of her career. This film is not to be missed.