Film review: Trumbo

Danielle Woodward is moved by the little-known story of a talented writer in troubled times


Film review: Trumbo

In the late 1940s, Dalton Trumbo (the Oscar-nominated Bryan Cranston) was one of the highest paid screenwriters in the world – and a political activist. Then, as part of Nixon’s probe into US communist activity, he is blacklisted and, with his colleagues, forced to testify in court.

Trumbo sticks to his right to freedom of thought, which lands him in prison and makes him an enemy of influential gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren).

For the next 13 years, Trumbo is ostracised by former colleagues and friends and struggles to provide for his family by writing movie scripts under assumed names – one of which won him an Oscar (Roman Holiday).

But when Kirk Douglas and director Otto Preminger each put the screenwriter’s real name on their 1960 films Spartacus and Exodus respectively, the blacklist era effectively came to an end.

With touches of humour amid the darkness, Trumbo (directed by Jay Roach) is an entertaining portrayal of a determined man, loyal father and husband, and immensely talented writer who refused to give up his ideals and freedom, and succumb to the communist witch-hunt that ruined the lives of many innocent people in America at that time.

Trumbo opens in British and Irish cinemas on 5 February