Maybe, just maybe, we don’t give enough credit to those working in broadcast television. Times have obviously changed and technology has clearly advanced since the release of 1987’s Broadcast News, but the sheer stress and pressure it manages to present is an absolutely marvellous addition to its already impressive cast. Broadcast News drops us into the lives of various reporters, journalists and personalities that are looking to make their way up in the newsroom. Highlighting the backstabbing, bribery and romances that they fumble through along the way, it’s a great piece of film that unfortunately lacks that final, important punch.
Starring a cast of all-time greats including Holly Hunter, Albert Brooks, William Hurt and Jack Nicholson, Broadcast News is an intensely entertaining endeavour into what it is to be a broadcast journalist. As a trainee journalist myself, it felt like a fitting discovery into what a potential future could look like. Bleak. It looks so very bleak. The film projects the cutthroat world of broadcast television as well as it can be expected. There are constant scenes of shouting, screaming and one-upmanship glued together in what is a seemingly forgettable plot. There’s no real fixed plot point, we merely slide through the lives of a group of individuals.
Those individuals are thankfully interesting, each with their own little quirks that set them apart from the rest of the cast members. Holly Hunter manages to provide some interesting scenes, half of which she’s seemingly having some form of schizophrenic breakdown, the other half of her scenes spent yelling at William Hurt’s Tom Grunick, the new journalist in town that looks to make a name for himself no matter the cost. Brooks also appears as Aaron Altman in such a great role it makes me upset he doesn’t appear in more mainstream or large releases. The man has sheer talent in any piece he provides us with, and his roles are so few and far between it leaves me longing for more.
With director James L. Brooks at the helm, we can be guaranteed a promising and enjoyable piece regardless of what happens. His influence knows no bounds, with his producing of Say Anything and direction in the later As Good As It Gets cementing him as a great asset to the 80s and 90s era of Hollywood. His work in Broadcast News is a great example of how enjoyable his own work is. A definable directing style, one that doesn’t get in the way of any of his characters, but highlights them with an almost spotlight effect; James L. Brooks gives us some great pieces of direction throughout.
By all means is Broadcast News a mixture of many different genres. It has all the workings of a comedy piece, but with the added layer of drama it becomes a tense romance with inner workings of as many genres as you can think of. It’s a great experiment, one that doesn’t nearly have as much impact as the film believes itself to have, but it’s still a creatively enjoyable piece that provides us with great direction and even greater performances.