Rachel Armstrong (played by Kate Beckinsale) is happily married to Ray (by David Schwimmer). They are settled in the suburbs and their young son, Timmy (by Preston Bailey) attends the local school. Ray is a published author and Rachel is an ambitious journalist who prides herself on her professional integrity. She writes a weekly column for a city newspaper. She uncovers a lead on a politically volatile story that will reveal international government activities but also expose a woman in their neighbourhood, Erica Van Doren (by Vera Farmiga). Erica has a young daughter who is in Timmy’s class at school, she regularly reads to the children at school and she is also a covert CIA operative. Rachel is so confident in the story and her sources that her Editor, Bonnie Benjamin (by Angela Bassett), agrees to publish the story even though the newspaper’s legal counsel, Avril Aaronson (by Noah Wyle), has severe reservations about doing so. When the article hits the headlines, given the potential risk to national security through leakage of classified information, Patton Dubois (by Matt Dillon) is sent by the government to persuade Rachel and the newspaper to reveal the source of the story. Rachel flatly refuses on a point of principle and the newspaper backs her up by hiring well known defence attorney, Albert Burnside (by Alan Alda) to fight her corner. Rachel defiantly cites the First Amendment and is adamant that she will never give up her source, even if she is threatened with a prison term – but as Rachel is a professional with a family, surely they wouldn’t push it to that extent …… would they?
From the outset, this movie gets you in. The drama is good and the story is very interesting. The principle under exploration here is a solid one, worthy of debate – the dilemma of national security versus professional ethics versus basic human nature. The challenge for a journalist to reveal a source (as opposed to a “whistle-blower”) arises from time to time in real life and aways seems to polarise opinion. Here, Rachel is clearly a woman of strong principle and the issue puts her in a difficult position of honour between her professionalism and her marriage. She and Ray make a lovely couple and their happy lives obviously just roll along … that is very credible here. Kate Beckinsale puts in a solid performance as the totally professional Rachel. I think David Schwimmer (as Ray) is the best I have ever seen him (- but it’s a bit hard to get past his character as dopey Ross, in the television series, Friends). This role seems to be made for him, he does a good job. I think best is Alan Alda – he is marvellous as the attorney, Albert Burnside – very well done. Matt Dillon and Angela Bassett also perform very well here.
Made in 2008. Directed by Rod Lurie