Brave are the filmmakers who go out and try to capture the plight of the middle class, aka relationship drama. James L. Brooks’ “Broadcast News” is a romance twisted up with a career that’s all about constantly proving yourself and rising to the top. In reality, it’s just co-worker romance with the heated pressure of a field where selling yourself and journalism ethics don’t always play nice. Brooks soundly portrays this corner of Americana despite the film’s minimal conflict, which comes with trying to make a film about reality.
Our lives aren’t interesting enough to make great films, that’s why we never tell entirely true stories. Even the “based on” kind are just that — based on. “Broadcast News” is far from true, but it might as well be. There isn’t a far-fetched concept in this entire movie. Brooks wants 30-something unmarried professionals looking for success and love, but because they’re already 30-something looking for success and love, that’s tougher than you think.
Jane (Hunter) is a quick-tempered D.C. news producer who can’t help but tell people what they should do, Aaron (Brooks) is the under-appreciated reporter and Jane’s closest friend who can’t go a minute without cracking a joke and Tom is the new anchor trying to prove he’s not just likable, but actually good at his job.
Peel back that layer and you have Jane, who has crying fits every 30 minutes because she doesn’t know what she wants though it might be Tom, Aaron who is madly in love with Jane and Tom who is attracted to Jane but has trouble dealing with her critical attitude.
The performances are all genuine, but of course much of that credit goes to the legendary Brooks. One could guess a lot of this film was drawn from either leftover or would-be ideas for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
Being real and truthful to human essence, however, while laudable, is just not what makes a great film. Certain people are bound to appreciate the sincerity and complete avoidance of cheeseball romance, but others will wish it had the intensity of a more daring plot.
Directed and written by James L. Brooks
Starring: Holly Hunter, William Hurt, Albert Brooks