Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Review: The Fifth Estate

World of Blackout Film Review

The Fifth Estate Poster

The Fifth Estate
Cert: 15 / 128 mins / Dir. Bill Condon

Bill Condon's latest is a real mixed bag. Simultaneously fascinating and apathetic in equal measure, it's careful not to sensationalise the Wikileaks affair too much, but it also stylises events above and beyond your usual docu-drama fayre. It's nice to be able to sit back and watch from a non-judgemental point of view, but there's very little in here that hasn't been all over the news for the past couple of years. It's difficult to reveal the untold truth about the story when that's exactly what Wikileaks have been doing. There are references to the central characters' private lives, but they end up as window-dressing, serving little purpose other than fleshing out the players which the director doesn't want us to get too attached to anyway.

The main problem seems to be, how do you really tell a story which isn't finished yet? Concerns in the press about the lionisation of Julian Assange with this film seem unfounded to me; he's portrayed as neither a hero or villain here, just a flawed, contradicted man whose reach is bordering on exceeding his grasp. Similarly with Assange's protégé/partner, Daniel, while he certainly seems to have a clearer moral compass than Julian, he's essentially just the eyes of the audience, and most of the film is told from his frustratingly-neutral point of view. Benedict Cumberbatch is comfortably eccentric as usual, and Daniel Brühl is quietly fantastic, keeping everything dialled down to everyman-level like a bearded Peter Parker.

The Fifth Estate is an engaging watch, even if it doesn't remain consistently accessible, sort of like a Guardianista Zero Dark Thirty. It's definitely worth a go, but definitely a DVD. The final scene manages to both bolster and patronise the audience; telling them to keep up the good fight for The Truth™, whilst also reminding them that what they've just watched is probably quite far from that exact thing. In many ways it's the perfect analogy for the 21st century.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
Well, I suppose.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
Yeah, I guess.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
I don't actually know.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
DVD, tops.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?
I don't feel the need at the moment.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There isn't.

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
This will still be miles better than the 'blockbuster thriller' version that will inevitably come out though, won't it?

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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