By Corey Quinto-
Based on the Vanity Fair article titled “The man who knew too much”, this 1999 film centers on Jeffery Wigand (Russell Crowe), a former research developer of Brown and Williamson who blew the whistle on big tobacco and exposed the dangers of it. The CBS news program 60 Minutes was used as the platform to expose a scam during the early 90’s when the country was consumed by tobacco. The film captures the time and subject matter perfectly through its clever storytelling, smart direction by Michael Mann, and superb acting from Russell Crowe, Al Pacino, and Christopher Plummer.
Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Jeffery Wigand was a breakthrough role for the Australian actor because of his ability to channel a paranoid whistle blower and play the character with perfection. Al Pacino portrays Lowell Bergman, the producer of 60 Minutes, who is trying to get the whole story out of Wigand. Al Pacino’s interpretation of Lowell Bergman is certainly one of the actor’s best roles and Pacino plays him to perfection.
Personally, I enjoy a film when the writers and director expose the facts as real as possible. In doing so, this keeps the truthfulness of the film believable. One example of this is the use of a confidentiality agreement. Crowe was unable to discuss anything with Wigand because he was bound to his agreement during the film’s development period and honored the clause. Coercion, silencing, hostile threats, and high emotions were depicted throughout the movie which kept you on the edge of your seat.
The scene in which the deposition hearing takes place was in fact the actual courtroom in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Again, another interesting fact I discovered while doing my research. This proves my point that the filmmakers were very clear on honoring the real truth. In addition, Michael Moore, the Attorney General for the state of Mississippi, played himself in the movie.
The Insider received seven Academy Award nominations including best picture, best director for Michael Mann, and best actor for Russell Crowe. In 2006, Premiere Magazine ranked Crowe’s performance number twenty-three of the one hundred greatest performances of all time.