The answer, given to us in intertitles early on in the film, is that the average age of the magazine's editorial staff was 26, when the thirst for excitement weighs more than the need for integrity. Far and away the strongest performance in Shattered Glass is Peter Sarsgaard's quietly impacted turn as Charles Lane, who, at 36, had the thankless task of succeeding the enormously popular Kelly after Kelly was fired by the notoriously cranky NewRepublic publisher Martin Peretz and convincing his sullen staff that all was not well with Stephen Glass' work. The movie only really comes alive when it tracks Glass' unmasking over a story he had made up from start to finish about a teenage computer hacker trying to extort money from a vulnerable corporation. There was no hacker, there was no company, and the fun lies in following a young star reporter (played with manic brio by Steve Zahn) at the online magazine Forbes Digital Tool take down Glass' wall of lies brick by brick. Then comes the sorrow and the inspiration as an agonized Lane, who has so much to lose by confirming his suspicions, plows ahead anyway. Watching Shattered Glass, I couldn't help wondering what kind of black-hearted romp Paul Schrader, Peter Weir or David Lynch might have made of Stephen Glass' sorry tale. Yet I'm heartened someone still has enough faith in the fourth estate to imagine this tawdry saga as an old-fashioned morality play in which the good guys come up tops.
Shattered Glass was written and directed by Billy Ray, based on theVanity Fair article by Buzz Bissinger; produced by Craig Baumgarten, Adam Merims, Gaye Hirsch and Tove Christensen; and Stars Hayden Christensen, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Zahn and Peter Sarsgaard. Now playing at Edwards South Coast Village, Santa Ana.