Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Insider (1999)

Stars :  Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Christopher Plummer, Bruce McGill, Diane Venora, Michael Gambon, Philip Baker Hall, Lindsay Crouse, Gina Gershon, Debi Mazar, Rip Torn, and Colm Feore.

Directed By: Michael Mann

Written By: Marie Brenner, Eric Roth, Michael Mann

When ordinary people come under extra-ordinary pressure it brings out the worst in most but only a few take it like a warrior and stand their ground. The Insider is a story inspired by true events and heroics of two individuals who stood their ground even when not just the tide but the whole ocean rose against them.

Jeffery Wigand (Russell Crowe ) is a Co-operate Director in a Tobacco powerhouse and he gets fired from his job for apparently no reason. Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino ) is a producer of CBS News's most popular and highest rated show 60 minutes. Lowell plans to do a show about cigarettes and needs someone who could translate some received documents into meaningful piece of information he can use in his show. Enters Jeffery, fired from his job, a man who has 2 daughters to look after, mortgages to pay and cover the cost of medical cover specially for one of his daughters who has asthma and is prone to sudden attacks. Jeffery is man of integrity who wants to honor his confidentiality agreement with his company which makes him a bit uncomfortable and paranoid. Lowell is a man who knows how to dig a story but also is a man of his words, when he gives his words to his source he backs it up with action. Lowell confides Jeffery to reveal the truth on air and Jeffery agrees half heartily. As Jeffery's last employers know about him talking to someone they threaten him and his family's  life, which acts as a catalyst and enables him to make up his mind to go on air and reveal the truth. As CBS news prepares to air the show, to safeguard Jeffery they make him a key witness in a lawsuit "Mississippi Vs Tobacco Companies". As the date of airing the show approaches CBS corporation intervenes and holds the broadcast of the show. This leaves both Lowell and Jeffery high and dry. What happens to these two men and how does it changes them, specially Lowell who is not backed up by the host of his own show for 14 yrs Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer) is what makes the movie really compelling and a beautiful watch.

Uptill The Insider Russel Crowe was a known actor but not in the  big league but after he not just entered the big league but ran past all who were running. As Jeffery Wigand a paranoid, ethical and a true family man Mr. Crowe gives a very commendable performance, a performance that earned him his first Academy Award nomination. As in words of  Russell Crowe  he gained weight for the role and his metabolism has never been the same, shows the commitment and effort put in by him which is very much visible on screen. He looks extremely vulnerable, plus the innocence and truthfulness in his eyes make him a character I sympathised with. There are few actors who can speak through their eyes and Mr. Crowe is one of them. There is a sequence where Jeffery is to testify in a case against the Tobacco companies but with a restraining order taken against him, he is in danger of going to jail if he testifies in court. Suddenly a sense of insecurity and fear for his family is visible on Mr. Crowe's face, then he moves out takes a stroll pondering over what to do and on return you can tell the decision taken by him just by looking at his face. One can see the calm and sense of peace in his eyes.

Al Pacino as Lowell is totally in command. He is confident , emotional and manipulative all three qualities that make a perfect TV producer. Though the part had some variation for Pacino but still there was a lot of the old Pacino in the character.  I strongly believe Mr. Pacino is one the Legends of Cinema and there is no one who can touch him but some how the same qualities or mannerism are seen in characters he has been playing in almost last 2 decades i.e. early 90's uptill now. This role was too a cake walk for Mr. Pacino who just does it so effortlessly and leaves the most impact. His character is aggressive, protective and man of his words which makes his character the star of the movie. Christopher Plummer takes up the role of Mike Wallace and delivers well. His scenes with Mr. Pacino are a delight to watch , specially the scene in where Mike Wallace reminds Pacino of the real world and how people remember you by last work.

The direction by Michael Mann is steady, he never lets the pace of the movie slip-off. Though movie is predictable but what makes the movie interesting is the screenplay, which keeps you engaged with the turmoil the characters go through. When Jeffery goes through his family issues I believed and wanted that everything will go back to normal. The depicts the difficulties and pressure the whistle blowers all over the world go through and keeping this in mind the director treats the subject with right amount of sensitivity and passion.
A nice movie with couple of brilliant performances, you can watch it if you are looking for a nice movie.

Plus : Brilliant Performances.

Rating : 8/10

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