LIFF28 - One Rogue Reporter - Cinema Review

'As a post-Leveson Inquiry piece of cinema, One Rogue Reporter hits the nail squarely on the head'.

In looking for a point of comparison for One Rogue Reporter, the closest film of recent years is most probably Inside Job, Charles Ferguson's near-flawless documentary chronicling the global financial meltdown of 2008 and the events leading up to it. It's a comparison any documentarian would surely be happy to have made about their film - Inside Job was, after all, the winner of Best Documentary Feaure at the 2010 Academy Awards. Whilst writer, director, actor and occasional subject of his own documentary Rich Peppiatt probably shouldn't prepare himself for the same level of achievement, One Rogue Reporter is certainly a film which deserves high praise.

Although Ferguson's $2,000,000 budget was modest in Hollywood terms, when you consider that Peppiatt's film was made for approximately 1% of that figure it suddenly seems gargantuan. The rough-and-ready feel of One Rogue Reporter is apparent pretty much all the way through, but it certainly never stops him from putting across his message. Peppiatt's aim is simple: to expose the questionable practices of the British tabloid press, with particular focus upon four key figures from the top of the industry, including Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre and former editor of The Sun Kelvin MacKenzie. Peppiatt's pranks are clearly crafted for entertainment value, and consistently entertaining they are too - a sequence where he leaves a large dildo on Dacre's front door step, continually riling one the newspaper mogul's security detail, is particularly memorable.

However, there is always an underlying criticism of the tabloid industry in Peppiatt's methods, sending up the hypocrisy of the four men he targets by essentially giving them a taste of their own medicine. As a documentary, One Rogue Reporter is well made and informative; as an exposé, it's perhaps less successful, as it's arguable how much of the information Peppiatt presents us with is entirely new and revelatory. At around an hour in length, this also feels somewhat slight, even if Peppiatt does gets the job at hand done efficiently.

Part of the reason why One Rogue Reporter ends up far more success than failure is down to Peppiatt himself, who is throughout a likeable, charismatic and honest presence. His film has its roots in a one man show he took to the Edinburgh Fringe, and it's easy to see from the evidence here how Peppiatt has successfully managed the transition to stand-up from his previous career. His past as a writer for the Daily Star is something Peppiatt makes no bones about: he speaks frankly on some of the degrading assignments he carried out in the name of tabloid journalism, clearly repentant whilst at the same time making no excuses for his former career choices.

Peppiatt wisely avoids making One Rogue Reporter a film about himself, but there is clearly a cathartic element within the scenes that deal with his time at the Daily Star. The writer and director swiftly and humbly confesses, making it very easy to forgive him his former sins. Most importantly, this means Peppiatt avoids coming across as hypocritical; although his stunts have been accused by some as stooping to the level of those he is criticising, in actuality Peppiatt shrewdly skewers tabloid culture whilst showing up the double standards of those he places squarely in the cross-hair. As a post-Leveson Inquiry piece of cinema, One Rogue Reporter hits the nail squarely on the head, committing to celluloid the foulness of the tabloid world in both entertaining and informative fashion.

The 28th Leeds International Film Festival took place from 5th-20th November 2014 at cinemas around the city, including Hyde Park Picture House and Leeds Town Hall. More information is available via the official LIFF website.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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