From the beginning A.O. Scott’s review of the 2005 movie Good Night and Good Luck, called “News in Black, White and Shades of Gray” opens with an evaluative critic’s stance of the overall effect of the film. Scott notes the setting, brief background, and directing style in the opening lines of the review.
Throughout the review, Scott is concise and on-point with his observations and comments about the plot and the direction of the movie, describing only the vital details and including the pertinent names of characters and directors. Only after watching the movie myself did I realize how skillfully the rich material of the film was summed up within the limited amount of words in this article.
For example, this is demonstrated just in the scope covered by his first sentence, which reads, “Shot in a black-and-white palette of cigarette smoke, hair tonic, dark suits and pale button-down shirts, ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’ plunges into a half-forgotten world in which television was new, the cold war was at its peak, and the Surgeon General’s report on the dangers of tobacco was still a decade in the future.” This sentence contains a multitude of information. Not only does it vividly illustrate the setting and background for the film, it also heightens the reader’s interest to read on.
Scott mentions in passing the special filming technique called cinéma-vérité style, which is closely associated to the way a documentary would unfold. It is a simple and realistic, and often behind the scenes, flow of montage, with very few fancy editing tricks of blending or fading. Additionally, Scott briefly describes the gist of the climax and only alludes to McCarthyism as the underlying tone of the film. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy comes alive by the movie’s resurrected clips of his historically accurate speeches. Scott also compares the film to Clooney’s prior production, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and views the two as companion pieces.
It is obvious that Scott dedicated his time and effort gathering information to develop a stance and strengthen it. He composes interesting characteristics of the film, evoking more meaning with fewer words. Referring to the choice to film the movie in black and white he writes, “that layer of the story is, as it should be, in stark black-and-white, but there is a lot of gray as well, and quite a few questions that are not so easily resolved.” In his last paragraph, Scott is determined to show that he is an admirer and supporter of the film, whose themes were rightly explored by the directing.