In a brief appearance in Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Babel, Cate Blanchett left me emotionally devastated with the portrayal of an American tourist struck by a stray bullet in a Moroccon village.This is the power of Blanchett, who never compromises with her acting prowess even if she has a very brief role in a given Film. Imagine the kind of intensity that one can experience in a one hundred and twenty minute long film featuring Blanchett. Yes, I am talking about director James Vanderbilt’s fiery debut feature film Truth.

Truth is a newsroom drama highlighting the 2004 ‘60 Minutes II’ case produced by Mary Mapes that questioned George W.

Bush’s military service. The film honestly acknowledges the crucial flaws in the reporting of Bush case, while asking larger than life questions about the state of morality in the world today.

Fittingly titled, Truth stands in the league of films like Spotlight for its mercilessly unbiased approach. Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) and her colleagues - ex-military man Lt. Colonel Roger Charles (Dennis Quaid), ethics expert Lucy Scott (Elisabeth Moss) and reporter Mike Smith (Topher Grace) - are not only the heroes of Truth, but also the villains. The eagerness of Mapes and her team on the Bush’s military service case is eloquently put forth by Vanderbilt.

The first half is a fast-paced account of how Mapes and her fastidious team went on to prove that Bush had received special treatment to not be a part of the draft to Vietnam.

You will know what is going to happen next when the story will go on air - like lots of pressure and heated phone-calls from CBS officials. I also felt that the chemistry between Robert Redford and Blanchett was a bit clumsily sketched, but the second half makes up for the loopholes.

The film sharpens in the closing act and becomes far more believable and compelling.

The excruciating interrogation of CBS’s legal panel with Mapes is a treat to watch. It is unbelievable to see how Blanchett’s stare turns from calmto aggressive in the final interrogation when the to-be grilled Mapes starts grilling the legal panel with her questions. Blanchett’s tour de force performance in this act puts her in the league of finest actors in the world.

Blanchett immerses herself in the role of Mary Mapes with supreme dexterity.In Blanchett, Vanderbilthas the perfect actor to portrayMapes'struggle in a way that’s harrowingas you see her turning into a walking ruinthrough her eyes.

Vanderbilt makes a proficient debut as a director in Truth. He has made an intelligent and thought-provoking film that explores the state of journalism in 21st century. It’s commendable to see how Vanderbilt has hinged on issues like whether ‘th’ superscript function was available in the Seventies’ typewriters and the space between the letters on a page. However, I felt that the sequences of Mapes with her husband and son were not finely written. To be frank, I also think that Vanderbilt's screenplaycould've done well without a few redundant themes like the addition of father-daughter problems that helped Mapes to emerge as a successful professional.

Overall, Truth works. It works mainly because of Blanchett's career-defining and nerve-racking performance that deserves due praise. Blanchett steers the ship of Truth along with Redford, Quaid, Moss and Grace inthe right direction. It may not be a perfect film, but it raises compelling questions about the world we live in today.

Rating: ★★★★☆