The world of bookish, passive-aggressive reporters doesn't seem like the stuff of compelling drama, but Billy Ray's Shattered Glass manages to make one egghead's pathetic desperation a rousing time at the movies. Comparisons to The Paper Chase or even All the President's Men aren't that far out of line: Glass presents a sad, late-'90s alternate universe to Woodward and Bernstein, where journalists -- ostensible purveyors of truth -- have to scramble to ferret out the lies in their own offices. Unlike Steven Spielberg's jocular Catch Me If You Can, Shattered Glass doesn't offer a pat explanation for its anti-hero's pathological lying. He isn't abandoned by a parent, and it isn't implied by anyone other than Hayden Christensen's Stephen Glass that he's attempting to live up to stratospheric expectations "back home." Instead, the character's rationale is inherent in Christensen's cagey, live-wire performance: He's a composite of every dog-ate-my-homework brown-noser that ever walked into a newsroom, classroom, or job interview, desperate for approbation and willing to stroke any ego to get it. A-list screenwriter Ray takes some liberties of his own in the name of cinema -- conflating a character here and there, and focusing almost solely on the piece that brought Glass down -- but the result is a tightly crafted, swiftly edited exposé that never curries obvious audience sympathy.