I wasn’t interested in seeing Breach, the new based-on-real-events movie about the capture of FBI mole Robert Hanssen. The previews looked conventional, and the star, Ryan Phillippe, has never been a favorite of mine. Then I saw that it had been written (with two others) and directed by Billy Ray, and my attitude changed immediately. Ray is no big-name auteur, but he is responsible for Shattered Glass, a meticulously crafted gem of docudrama and a real favorite of mine.
Ray’s scrupulous attention to detail impresses me each time I see Glass, which tells the story of a scandal at The New Republic magazine, the revelation that one of the writers had been passing off outrageous fiction as fact. Surely the earlier film’s thoughtful, thought-provoking examination of why we believe lies and how they go unnoticed would translate well to a story of deception and betrayal at the FBI. But Breach failed to live up to the promise of Shattered Glass. It didn’t give me as much to think about, and it didn’t capture my imagination.