Broadcast News (1987) Directed by James L. Brooks. With Holly Hunter, William Hurt and Albert Brooks.
Written, produced and directed by Oscar winner, James L. Brooks, Broadcast News is a smart comedy/drama with a strong satirical backbone that boasts engaging performances from a fine cast. My recommendation could end there, but this is a film that’s worth more than a few jazzy adjectives on a poster, and deserves singling out in recognition of it’s influence on subsequent film and television.
First up, the script is a work of art. During the film, William Hurt’s news anchor, Tom Grunick likens an exchange of dialogue with Holly Hunter’s TV producer, Jane Craig, as both rhythmic and sexual. In fairness, it’s a fairly astute assessment of the overall piece. Brooks’ dialogue is beautifully realised, not just by the main three players, Hunter, Hurt and the sublime Albert Brooks, but also a brilliant supporting cast featuring Jack Nicholson and Robert Prosky.
As well as a strong undercurrent of satirical wit, the film serves up the main course of a finely constructed love triangle. This isn’t one of those films that has a sugary pop song sandwiched between every scene, nor it is a film that gives you the impression it’s going to send everyone happily into the sunset. No, it’s a film that makes every effort to rely on writing, character and to some extent, the intellect of you, the viewer, to decide how you feel about the decisions some of the characters make.
In the wake of Broadcast News, it’s easy to see it’s mark on TV like The West Wing, and in films such as Morning Glory. It’s often funny and charming while managing to be romantic and a little heartbreaking. The former comparison particularly, is often guilty of portraying powerful, intelligent people as super beings, capable of spouting huge chunks of dizzyingly intellectual dialogue without drawing breath, whereas Broadcast News depicts self aware people, fully aware of their own weakness’, trying to overcome or at least come to terms with who they are, and what they want. Excellent. 4.5/5