Billed on Netflix as a romantic comedy where two men fight over a woman, this is actually a scathing satire of the newspaper industry. It is to printed news what Network is to TV.
The romantic element, in which a newspaper editor tries to convince his ex-wife to get back together with him by bringing her back into the heated newsroom where they met, is secondary to the real story: an escaped convict due to be hanged the following day.
To comment on the specifics of the accusation would take a second viewing, but the way the editor manipulates both the news and his former lover to his own ends is an expertly portrayed critique of the newspaper industry. Interestingly, however, the very act of manipulation seems to appeal to Hildy – she is in love with the newsroom and the fact he applies the same manipulative techniques to their relationship only makes him better in her eyes.
This indicates an apparent amorality. While it begins with a disclaimer that this is not necessarily representative of contemporary newsrooms, suggesting a perhaps less than positive view of the behaviour, no character ever receives any comeuppance for their conduct, and the fact Hildy falls for both the underhand nature of the industry, and the man who employs the same tactics in his personal life, suggests a necessary evil at best and appealing features at worst.
It’s also interesting in the sense that a female character is presented as the best journalist in the business, above the standard of those around her. The dialogue is of a speed and sharpness that you rarely see in films now. Long scenes with no cuts, of to-ing and fro-ing between characters, are fizzing with energy and you really need to focus to keep up. This perfectly creates the atmosphere of a newsroom.
A brilliant and enthralling satire and a love story in one, it’s no surprise this is considered amongst the best films ever made.