State of Play

Directed By: Kevin MacDonald Starring: Ben Affleck Russell Crowe

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Product Overview

A team of investigative reporters work alongside a police detective to try to solve the murder of a congressman's mistress.


Studio Universal
SKU 211417138
UPC 025195040075
UPC 14 00025195040075
Format DVD
Release Date 9/1/2009
Rating Rating
Theatrical Release
Editors Note
Note Director Kevin Macdonald moves from documentaries and the Idi Amin drama THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND to this fictional thriller that feels all too real at times. Based on the BBC miniseries of the same name, STATE OF PLAY stars Russell Crowe as Cal McCaffrey, an old-school-style journalist working for the Washington Globe. He begins to investigate the death of a young woman who was the research assistant and mistress of his friend Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), an ambitious congressman whose career is likely ruined when his affair is revealed. Joined by young political blogger Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), Cal races against time and deadlines to solve the murder, which may be only a small part of a much larger crime. ^Like ALL THE PRESIDENT?S MEN, STATE OF PLAY is a thought-provoking thriller that manages to be both timely and timeless. It reflects its 2009 release date with a plot that questions the validity and existence of newspapers in the face of bloggers and the 24-hour news cycle, as well as addressing the efforts of a Blackwater-like group working in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Macdonald?s film should also age remarkably well; Crowe?s Cal must reconcile his personal life with his professional one, and ethics lie at the heart of the movie. Crowe gives a get-noticed performance in the middle of a packed cast that also includes Affleck, McAdams, Helen Mirren, Jeff Daniels, and Robin Wright Penn. Jason Bateman steals scenes--and adds a bit of much-needed comic relief--in his small part in the film.
Movieline ?Take ALL THE PRESIDENT?S MEN, add liberal doses of potboiler melodrama and existential journalist angst, and you?ve got the foundation for STATE OF PLAY...? 04/13/2009
Variety "[T]his efficient, admirably coherent thriller about reporters digging down to where politics and murder meet in Washington, D.C., has a wistful air about it..." 04/13/2009
Chicago Sun-Times 3 stars out of 5 -- "STATE OF PLAY is a smart, ingenious thriller set in the halls of Congress and the city room of a newspaper not unlike the Washington Post." 04/15/2009
USA Today 3 stars out of 4 -- "[A] well-crafted political thriller....Several high-caliber performances give the film its vibrancy, under the capable direction of Kevin Macdonald. Crowe is excellent, and Helen Mirren is superb..." 04/21/2009
Washington Post "STATE OF PLAY features handsome production and terrific performances....Mirren has some especially choice moments..." 04/17/2009
A.V. Club "Macdonald and his cast shepherd STATE OF PLAY through a number of surprising twists and turns..." -- Grade: B- 04/16/2009
Box Office 3 stars out of 5 -- "[Crowe delivers] a performance of grizzled credibility as a newspaper journalist....STATE OF PLAY is, more than a topical alarm bell, an efficient, pulsating exercise in thriller mechanics." 04/16/2009
Premiere 4 stars out of 4 -- "This is a smart script...[with] a wealth of twists..." 04/16/2009
Rolling Stone 3 stars out of 4 -- "It's juicy stuff, made juicier by the actors....STATE OF PLAY keeps the twists coming." 04/30/2009
Total Film 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] storming thriller....The fesity veteran/rookie relationship is made believable thanks to the actors' spot-on chemistry..." 10/01/2009
Entertainment Weekly "Crowe is fantastic as a grizzled, old-school D.C. reporter....The story's twists and switchbacks keep coming." -- Grade: A- 09/04/2009
Uncut 4 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t's very successful, gripping from start to finish..." 04/17/2009
Kevin MacDonald
Ben Affleck
Russell Crowe
Cast & Crew
Helen Mirren - Star
Ben Affleck - Star
Russell Crowe - Star
Rachel McAdams - Star
Robin Wright - Star
Jason Bateman - Star
Jeff Daniels - Star
Josh Mostel - Star
Michael Weston - Star
Barry Shabaka Henley - Star
Viola Davis - Star
E. Bennett Walsh - Executive Producer
Rodrigo Prieto - Director of Photography
Alex Heffes - Composer
Paul Abbott - Executive Producer
Tim Bevan - Producer
Matthew Michael Carnahan - Screenwriter
Eric Fellner - Producer
Tony Gilroy - Screenwriter
Billy Ray - Screenwriter
Paul Abbott - Source Writer
Andrew Hauptman - Producer
Kevin MacDonald - Director
Technical Info
Original Release Date 2009
Catalog ID 61104845
UPC 00025195040075
Number of Discs 1
Running Time 128 minutes
Color Color
Aspect Ratio
Widescreen  2.35:1
ReviewSource ReelViews
Review The three screenwriters (Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy, Billy Ray) credited with adapting Paul Abbott's mini-series into a motion picture have done something remarkable: reduce five hours of material into less than two hours and still produce something that is both coherent and engrossing. There's no question that State of Play feels a little rushed and the density of plot can be daunting, but the resulting tale unfolds with an urgency and sense of verisimilitude that will keep most viewers intrigued and involved without losing many along the way...State of Play's pedigree is unquestionable. The director, Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), is a rising luminary in both British and American cinema. Tony Gilroy, who has been writing screenplays since 1992's The Cutting Edge and has a string of recent thrillers to his credit (including Duplicity, which he also directed), is as close to a "can't miss" prospect as one is likely to find. The cast features several A-list actors, including the always interesting Russell Crowe and the always delightful Helen Mirren (wish she'd been in more scenes), in fine form. If there's an obvious downside to the overall endeavor, it's that the mini-series condensation leaves the motion picture feeling truncated - something even those unaware of the source material may sense, if only subconsciously. Nevertheless, in an environment where dumb thrillers are outperforming smart ones by wide margins, we can be thankful to have something on this level available, even if it is a remake.
Reviewer James Berardinelli
ReviewRating 9
ReviewSource Rolling Stone
Review You try slicing and dicing a six-hour corker of a 2003 British miniseries into a two-hour suspense drama set in Washington, D.C. It ain't easy. Maybe that's why Brad Pitt dropped out, and his Fight Club alter ego, Edward Norton, followed. Russell Crowe stepped in for Pitt as Cal McAffrey, the reporter torn between professional ethics and his friendship with Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck, in for Norton), a married congressman involved in a sex scandal. Maybe that's why director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) assigned three screenwriters -- Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray -- to whip Paul Abbott's original story into a new shape. Maybe that's why major characters were dumped (James McAvoy's brilliant take on a son of journalistic privilege is the biggest miss) or sex-changed (Bill Nighy's acid-tongued newspaper editor is now, marvelously, Helen Mirren) or morphed from reporter (Kelly Macdonald) into trendy, tabloid-bred blogger (Rachel McAdams...Crowe and Mirren duel like dinosaurs over the future of newspapers, if there is one. "Good reporters don't have friends, just sources," she tells him, knowing that the cheating-congressman story will sell more papers than government skulduggery. The days of All the President's Men are over. Headline hunting has made casualties of truth and trust. The movie reverbs with grief over the death of what once made newspapers essential. It's juicy stuff, made juicier by the actors, Jeff Daniels as a shadowy politico and a knockout Jason Bateman as a kinky PR guy getting roughed up, but not in the ways he'd prefer. Affleck may strike you as off-putting at first, hitting wrong emotional notes, but hang on. State of Play keeps the twists coming,
Reviewer Peter Travers
ReviewRating 8
ReviewSource Chicago Sun-Times
Review Here is Russell Crowe playing an ace investigative reporter for "The Washington Globe." All the cops and most of the people on Capitol Hill seem to know him; he's one of those instinctive newsmen who connects the dots so quickly that a 127-minute movie can be extracted from a six-hour BBC miniseries. This keeps him so occupied that he has little time for grooming, and doesn't seem to ever wash his lanky hair..."State of Play," directed by Kevin Macdonald ("The Last King of Scotland"), is well-assembled and has some good performances. Crowe pulls off the Joaquin Phoenix look-alike; McAdams doesn't overplay her blogger's newbieness; Mirren convinced me she could be a newspaper editor. Wright Penn always finds the correct shadings. If Affleck, as he plays this role, were to have his face carved into Mt. Rushmore, people would ask which was the original...The thing is, though, that the movie never quite attains altitude. It has a great takeoff, levels nicely, and then seems to land on autopilot. Maybe it's the problem of resolving so much plot in a finite length of time, but it seems a little too facile toward the end. Questions are answered, relationships revealed and mysteries solved too smoothly. If a corporation like PointCorp could have its skullduggery exposed that easily, it wouldn't still be in business.
Reviewer Roger Ebert
ReviewRating 8
DVD, English, Dolby, Dolby Digital (5.1)
Product Attributes
Video Format DVD
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle ...likely to stand as one of the best films of 2009.
Rob Calvert, This is a smart script. There is a wealth of twists, but none of them have to beat you over the head.
Scott Mendelson, It is a refreshingly traditional star-driven thriller.
Stephanie Zacharek, An intelligent adult thriller about the death of newspapers.

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