Why so serious? Where Trumbo stumbles, however, subsequently hinders the potential excellence of the aforementioned performances. Most glaringly stems from any details depicting Trumbo’s support for the communists. For as passionate as he is in his support, there’s a feeling that he’s overtly defiant only because Hollywood has him blacklisted—with the script choosing not to explore deeper into his motives behind his afflation. If the film had embraced its underlying comedic tone – brought forth through a blunt Louis C.K., and John Goodman as schlock producer Frank King – we wouldn’t be stuck in this awkward middle ground between the energy, wit, and extravagance of this light-hearted defiance, and the paper-thin blandness of playing the crucially controversial aspects safe.
The 50s have never looked so good. Although the jazzy editing wasn’t consistent enough to maintain a rhythmic pace, Director Jay Roach and Cinematographer Jim Denault perked with an unwavering 50s Americana aesthetic. Cars and clothes are expected and delivered, but the fleeting frames of Trumbo plotted in a bathtub, with a table littered in cutouts and crumbled paper, crafts images that could have been lived in 65-odd years ago. The period portrayal is made all the more striking with the odd black and white televised filter as well as fun John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, and Edward G. Robinson impersonations from David James Elliot, Dean O’ Gorman, and Michael Stuhlbarg respectively.