Title – Citizenfour (2014)
Director – Laura Poitras (The Oath)
Cast – Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald
Plot – Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras and Guardian newspaper reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill travel to Hong Kong to meet with former NSA inside man Edward Snowden as he readies himself to let the world know about the inner workings of the largest security surveillance operation in the world.
“We are building the biggest weapon for oppression in the history of mankind”
Review by Eddie on 26/11/2015
Winner of this year’s Best Documentary feature at the Academy Awards, Citizenfour is an insightful and rare glimpse into the politically charged revelations of former NSA sub-contractor Edward Snowden that has seen him become a Julian Assange like figure of the modern world and one of the wanted men on America’s most hated list.
Before Oliver Stone’s high profile Joseph Gordon Levitt retelling of the Snowden story hits our screens sometime next year, Citizenfour offers us the best chance to get to know Snowden the “person” not the news headline and also get background as to why this clearly smart and sophisticated young man choose to unleash the National Security Agency’s real dealings to the world through his touch base with the Guardian newspaper and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras.
Citizenfour (Snowden’s code name in email contact with reporters and filmmakers) is not a documentary worth seeing for any other reason other than the fact it’s an incredibly intimate and unflattering look at the week in the life of Snowden when the news was being prepped for the world at just what was going on behind closed doors. Snowden allowed filmmaker Poitras access to his hotel room as he carried out meetings with the Guardian’s reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill and while watching we feel like a fly on the wall as this world changing news is gathered and the dots are joined together. In these close-nit meetings Snowden comes across as a likeable and thoughtful persona that cares not for his own goals, rather the lives of his fellow citizens both at home and abroad.
Snowden’s recollections of what lay at the fingertips of the NSA are both revealing and frightening and he displays a clear understanding of just why this information can’t be left behind closed doors. After watching Snowden talk, you’ll be hard pressed to look at your phone or computer in the same way as before.
With Steven Soderbergh’s presence here as a producer, Citizenfour has a polished feel but really as a film making piece there’s nothing to ride home about here and the true star of the show is Snowden himself. Perhaps a slightly strange choice for a Best Documentary win at the Oscars considering the film mainly consists of a camera planted solely around Snowden, Citzenfour is none the less an intriguing and honest look into one of the modern eras most explosive information leaks.
3 ½ tension riddled fire alarm tests out of 5