Bryan Cranston is Dalton Trumbo the one time highest paid screen-writer in the world, until he is put on the blacklist and shunned out of work and into prison for being a communist. He fights back by writing as many scripts as he can without credit winning two Oscars in the process, finally making it back to the mainstream with the commercial success of Spartacus.
Trumbo is an extremely odd film because on one hand it’s clearly been geared up to get Cranston an Oscar nomination which it’s done, but I feel like everyone voted for him prior to seeing the actual film and just nominated him on the strength of Breaking Bad. And in a film full of people that don’t seem real, Cranston is the least real. It feels like he is performing in a panto where he has to amplify all the mannerisms and speech patterns otherwise nobody will notice him. After a year full of beautifully understated and nuanced performances Cranston and this whole film sticks out like a sore thumb. I don’t know if it’s all Cranston’s fault because the script is written in this horrible expositionary and unrealistic way. Nobody in this film talks like normal people do. It’s like they aren’t talking to each other, but like they are talking to cameras that happen to be near people. It’s really odd watching it because at no stage do you at all get involved, it just seems so staged and unreal. It also doesn’t help that all of the real life famous actors are played by people that not only sound and look nothing like the original people, but also act nothing like they did. You think the guy they’ve got playing John Wayne is bad, just you wait for Kirk Douglas.
However, despite the fact that it’s actually a rubbish film I did kind of enjoy it. Well, I enjoyed parts of it. I enjoyed John Goodman and Louis C.K. who bring comic relief to a film that is generally quite dull. And I’d be lying if I didn’t laugh out loud a number of times. Admittedly only half of these I think were intentional, but there isn’t much funnier than a horribly shoehorned in historical reference – see Kirk Douglas telling his producers that he is Spartacus -.
Overall, even though I know I shouldn’t I found myself enjoying Trumbo. But it is rubbish. Bryan Cranston’s Oscar nom is a proper headscratcher.