Jay Roach (2015)

15 Certificate


Our Score
The paranoia-fuelled blacklisting of film-makers for their Communist Party sympathies in the 1940s and 50s remains a prickly subject for Hollywood. So the producers of this biopic of unrepentant, Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (a "swimming-pool socialist", in the wry words of one colleague) should be applauded for getting the finance together. Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston brings stature and eccentricity to the title role and director Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents) relishes re-creating scenes from key movies and the postwar Tinseltown milieu, cleverly blending newsreel of the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings with dramatisation. But Trumbo doesn't stray far enough from karaoke star-spotting (notably John Wayne and Kirk Douglas) to reach any deeper understanding of a shameful situation. John McNamara's script oversimplifies complex material and leaves characters spouting rhetoric. While Red-bashing, anti-Semitic columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) is no more than a panto villain. At least Michael Stuhlbarg brings humanity as a stoic Edward G Robinson and John Goodman injects some uncouth energy to his B-movie producer Frank King, but The Front, the 1976 fictional account of this grim period in postwar US history, did a more focused job.


Biopic of the acclaimed Hollywood screenwriter, who was jailed and blacklisted in the 1940s for his left-wing political views. On his release from prison, he manages to continue writing using a series of pseudonyms, and his newfound success leads many to question the validity of the blacklist. Biopic of the writer, starring Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane and Helen Mirren.

Cast & Crew

Dalton Trumbo Bryan Cranston
Niki Trumbo Elle Fanning
Cleo Trumbo Diane Lane
Ian McLellan Hunter Alan Tudyk
Hedda Hopper Helen Mirren
Frank King John Goodman
Edward G Robinson Michael Stuhlbarg
Kirk Douglas Dean O'Gorman
Virgil Brooks Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Arlen Hird Louis CK
John Wayne David James Elliott
Buddy Ross Roger Bart
Sam Wood John Getz
Louis B Mayer Richard Portnow
Otto Preminger Christian Berkel
Hymie King Stephen Root
Director Jay Roach
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: E1 EntertainmentGuidance: SwearingAvailable on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 5 Feb 2016