Frankly? I didn’t like Trumbo. Maybe the problem was with me, but I was not engaged by this film at all. It is rather disappointing as I have heard and read some pretty positive reviews, unlike The Danish Girl where I walked in with my expectations exactly met. The whole film is quite artificial and contrived, which is fine as I never demanded all biopics to be hyper realistic, but I found it kinda boring and uneven too. The first half was draggy, which made it seem weird when Trumbo goes to prison in a rushed-out sequence. I do think it got a lot better when it focuses on his life after his release though. Also, this could be the hammiest cast I have seen in years, which isn’t really that bad actually as I found the actors to be the most entertaining part of the film. All the actors, even the minor supporting ones, give really mannered performances to varying results. John Goodman and my favourite actress Helen Mirren were pretty good (she was on the verge of overdoing it at times though), but Dean O’ Gorman gives a weird Ryan Gosling impression. Oh sorry, I meant Kirk Douglas.
I am not familiar with Bryan Cranston. Because a) I never watched Breaking Bad (GASP!) and b) I never watched Malcolm in the Middle (GASP!). If I were to compare his performance here to another one, I would say Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia. Even though I am not familiar with Cranston, I can see that he is a damn good actor from this performance. The experience, the amount of control, the confidence in his technique and delivery are all apparent in this performance. And yet strangely enough, I couldn’t find myself really warming up to his performance here.
His performance is really mannered, but in his defense, it fits the artificial nature of the script. The mimicry is always apparent to me, but it doesn’t really distract me in a bad way. What kinda bothered me was the fact that I don’t really care for Trumbo as a character. I don’t feel sorry for him when he got blacklisted, I don’t feel angry at the way he treated his family, I don’t feel happy for him when he won the Oscar, I just don’t even feel very…interested in him. Throughout the whole movie, I just feel like I am following Trumbo through the ups-and-downs of his life as an observer. I feel like Cranston focused so much on developing the exterior mannerisms of Trumbo that I kinda got distracted from the emotional development – if it was even there in the first place. Even his emotional final speech, with the teary eyes and all, didn’t really move me as much as I would have wanted. Yes, I remembered thinking that he was doing a really good job on the technical front but I just didn’t really…feel much.
Yet despite what I have written, this performance did leave me with a strong impression of Bryan Cranston as an actor. What this felt like to me was like watching a lesser work from an obviously talented performer who clearly knows his craft. It makes me interested in watching more of Cranston’s other works. 3/5.