Review: Shattered Glass (2003)

shattered glass poster

“He handed us fiction after fiction, and we printed them all as fact. Just because we found him entertaining.”– Chuck Lane

The New Republic magazine has a star reporter, and his name is Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen). Stephen is adored by his colleagues as well as his editor, Michael Kelly (Hank Azaria). He churns out exceptionally entertaining pieces and has sense of humour, though he acts very shy and is very self-deprecating at the best of time. However, one of his articles causes Kelly to have to question one of the facts in one of Stephen’s pieces, and Stepehn acknowledges that he made a mistake though the rest of the article is completely accurate.

Marty Peretz (Ted Kotcheff), who is Kelly’s boss, replaces him with Charles “Chuck” Lane (Peter Sarsgaard), after he refuses to let Marty treat the staff like idiots, and stands up for them. Chuck is met with severe resistance from the rest of the office, though it was to be expected. Stephen has issues with Chuck, though goes to him to apologise and the two seem to find some common ground. Caitlin Avey (Chloë Sevigny), a colleague and close friend of Stephen’s, is upset when he starts to attend law school at his parents request, feeling he is trying too hard to please people. Later Stephen publishes another wildly entertaining story about computer hackers and a young hacker named Ian Restil (Owen Roth) who is given an impressive job and his ludicrous demands are met seeing as this company, Jukt Micronics, is so desperate to have him on board.

shattered glass reporter stephen

“It’s true, journalism is hard work. Everybody’s under pressure. Everybody grinds to get the issue out. Nobody’s getting any sleep, but you are allowed to smile every once in awhile.” – Stephen Glass

Adam Penenberg (Steve Zahn), a reporter for the online publisher Forbes Digital Tool, starts to look into the “Hack Heaven” story of Stephen’s, and finds that there are numerous flaws and faults with it. He cannot corroborate the majority of the story, and contacts The New Republic about it. Chuck now sits with the mess and he tries to back his reporter, but more and more faults come to the front. The more Stephen comes up with answers, the harder Adam seems to knock them down. Stephen cannot provide sources, and nobody wants to hear anything Chuck has to say on the matter because everyone reveres Stephen so much. Chuck and Stephen fight over the story incessantly, Stephen playing the wounded and betrayed card and everyone is defending him due to being exhausted from being in law school at night.

shattered glass looking into the story

“This guy is toast.” – Adam Penenberg

Is Stephen fabricating his proof and evidence? Will Adam let this go? Is this really a mistake? Did Stephen fake the story in such a huge publication? What will Chuck do about it? How will he work out what is real and not? What will he find the further he digs into Stephen’s story? How were the facts not checked correctly by other staff members? What is Stephen playing at? Is he as solid a reporter as people presumed he was?

shattered glass falling apart

“I didn’t do anything wrong, Chuck.” – Stephen Glass

I would score Shattered Glass a 6/10. It was interesting and very well presented, and always a thrill to watch how someone managed to take an entire system for a ride. Hayden Christensen (despite what everyone has to say about him) is not an awful actor, and seems to be a great choice to play the enigmatic Stephen Glass. He used the paper as his playing field, and had an absolute blast making up his own fictitious stories and selling them as fact. Hank Azaria played the type of editor that I would assume that people would want working as a journalist. I was also surprised by how easy it was to manipulate the journalistic system and use it at your disposal. I know that Chuck is presented as a douche from the off, and he may have not been the easiest or most likeable man, but I appreciated him for being the one that was willing to work and do the job, no matter what his personal feelings were in any situation, and I think that is important, especially in that type of industry. The story was simple, and focused a lot on the one story that would bring Stephen Glass down, but it was not fantastic, and didn’t keep me hooked. Interesting enough to keep me watching to find out, but not something I would scream about from the rooftops or highly recommend to anyone, though it is watchable.

18 thoughts on “Review: Shattered Glass (2003)

  1. Good review Zoe. One of the only reasons I ever give Hayden Christiensen a pass and feel like there’s so much more to him than the crap we see him in. I mean yeah, usually he’s very bad in the bad material he’s suited with but at least here, he shows that he can do some good for this world.


  2. “Hayden Christensen (despite what everyone has to say about him) is not an awful actor”

    You know how much I like you but I am going to have to disagree with you on this one… : )



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