‘State of Play’ is a political/journalistic thriller about a Senatorial aide who is mysteriously killed, leading to all sorts of questions about her boss, the committee he’s running, corruption in Washington, etc. Ben Affleck’s the Senator, and his old college buddy, Russell Crowe is an investigative journalist for a Washington Post-like newspaper. Helen Mirren is the paper’s editor, who lets him cover the story, thinking he’ll get the inside scoop. Rachel McAdams is the decidedly-not-a-journalist blogger who’s interested in only the salacious (Read: sexy) details of the story.
There are dark alleys and mysterious photographs and, of course, history between Ben Affleck’s wife (Robin Wright Penn) and Russell Crowe. In neat bookends (which made for good trailer clips if not much else), it also sort of tries to be about the death of the printed word, and there may or may not have been commentary on war. I'm going to try to leave this spoiler free, because there are a lot of twists and turns and that's definitely where the fun of this movie was. But, to be honest, I'm not sure I could spoil the movie if I tried because I'm not entirely sure what happened – that's how knotted up everything winds up in the end.
Some miscellaneous points:
- Helen Mirren's character, a hard nosed editor, well aware that in this day and age journalistic integrity means less than selling newspapers, was written as a male. It doesn't seem like they changed the script one bit with casting (At one point, she tells a belligerent Russell Crowe to suck her balls) and I really respect that.
- Ben Affleck's character was named Stephen Collins. This is the name of the actor who played the murderous father that forced Keri Russell, a high school diving phenom, to dive out of the attic window to escape him in that Lifetime movie. You know, Father Camden from 7th Heaven. For some reason, this really bothered me.
- Another thing that really bugged me. Ben Affleck is 8 years younger than Russell Crowe (wouldn’t you think it’d be more?), but they were supposed to be college friends?
- I apparently also had an issue with Jason Bateman in this movie, because my notes read: "Michael Bluth? Really?", but it probably says more that I no longer remember what his significance was to the overall plot. I do remember that he wore eyeliner.