What is the link between money, power, sex and politics?

Directed by Kevin Macdonald - 2009 – USA, UK, France – 127 min

State of Play

2023 August 23 | by Arduino Mancini Boss and Staff member - Conflict - Cryme and Thriller - Motivation - Politics

The film is based on the self-titled BBC television series and is set in Washington, the U.S. capital.

The story begins with two criminal acts: a man kills a burglar on the run, then strikes a passerby, accidentally witnessing the murder, who remains in a coma.

The following day Sonia Baker, a young assistant to Congressman Stephen Collins, dies on the subway; the death has all the appearance of suicide. But Sonia Baker is also the lover of Collins, who chairs the congressional committee investigating the management of public money earmarked for national security by PointCorp, a hugely powerful company that receives most of the funds.

Collins, already married to Anne, does not believe his assistant’s suicide and seeks help from Cal McAffrey, a journalist and old college roommate. Cal works at the city’s most important newspaper and is an old-fashioned journalist who has to compete internally with Della Frye, a bright young colleague in the web newsroom; in addition, Cal has to put up with pressure from Cameron Lynne, the paper’s editor-in-chief, who detests his behaviour but knows that removing Cal from the investigation could mean compromising its outcome.

Now, enough about the plot: watch the trailer and then I will go on to the aspects that I would like you to pay attention to.





How to watch the film

The performances of Russell Crowe, Helen Mirren, and Robin Wright enhance the many, interesting aspects of the film.

Intriguing are the dynamics within the newspaper, where you see two very different ways of conceiving journalism: on the one hand, people trying to fiercely resist the advent of the Internet by making rather limited use of the technologies, and on the other hand, those trying to ride it out knowing that the net will play an increasingly important role in mainstream information.

The two positions initially confront each other rather sharply, but over time they learn to look at things from a point of view that allows them to achieve the best result.

Another noteworthy aspect is the relationship between Cal and Cameron, the newspaper director, who is confronted with the journalist’s tendency to work as a lone wolf who shuns the use of technology; Cal’s stubbornness irritates her deeply, and in a climate where shareholders are pressing hard to maintain market positions, she must continuously fight against the temptation to fire him.

In short, you will be able to observe the eternal dilemma of the boss who has to deal with a difficult staff member: too stubborn but too good to be cut down.

In addition to his difficult relationship with the boss, Cal must manage his longtime friendship with Congressman Stephen and his wife Anne:

  • What is the border between professional ethics and the wish to help a friend in trouble?
  • What role do feelings play in such a situation?
  • And how to handle them?

To finish, a comment on the ever-powerful link between power, politics, money and sex.

The film gives several opportunities to watch its folds, showing how power is too often so strong to drive people to manipulate feelings and overcome doubts and moral instances without too much resistance.

I forgot: State of Play is a film classified as a thriller. Well, it will not disappoint in this respect either.

Enjoy your viewing!



Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright, Jason Bateman, Jeff Daniels

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