The Report

The Report ★★★★

In effect, Scott Z. Burns has managed to turn the drafting of a 7000 page senate subcommittee report into a compelling piece of cinema. That alone merits praise. The Report sees Adam Driver as Daniel L. Jones, senior staffer to Diane Feinstein, tasked with generating an investigatory report into the workings and efficacy of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques in the wake of September 11.

For me at least, this film scratched the same itch as Zodiac. A masterwork of procedural minutiae that becomes a picture of its protagonist’s focused obsession. Burns manages to distill excitement from the grind of reading through old emails and memoranda.

The key to all this is Adam Driver. In the same year as his masterful work in Marriage Story, Driver is excellent here too. He exudes palpable focus and drive. He comes off as dutiful and believable. Driver as well manages to bless the proceedings with little grace notes of humor in is line readings - a “how are you, by the way?” in the midst of a tirade about documents. I remember Ron Howard once described his ideal Robert Langdon as someone you enjoy watching think. I loved watching Driver think.

He’s aided by a murderer’s row of supporting players. Best among them is the always wonderful Annette Bening as Senator Feinstein. Others too, among them Jon Hamm and Corey Stoll, leave impressions in small roles.

The direction is a bit flat and workmanlike. There’s only so much you can do visually with the act of document review, even with extensive flashbacks. Nothing is wrong on the production side, but nothing really shines.

An excellent performance in a strong drama with a bang up script. 

2019: First to Worst