Using state-of-the-art equipment, a group of activists, led by renowned dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health.
In January 2013, Laura Poitras started receiving anonymous encrypted e-mails from "CITIZENFOUR," who claimed to have evidence of illegal covert surveillance programs run by the NSA in collaboration with other intelligence agencies worldwide. Five months later, she and reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The resulting film is history unfolding before our eyes.Written by
One of the last title cards reads: "Edward Snowden's longtime partner, Lindsay Mills moves to Moscow to be with him", Snowden has stated in many interviews that Lindsay is his girlfriend not life partner. See more »
I really appreciate what Snowden did and this film only raises my level of gratitude because it shows the man as well as the information he disclosed. Given this and the risk a filmmaker takes when recording a sensitive subject like this, I do think that the makers of Citizenfour should be praised.
However, once you start watching it you realize that it is made from the same mold that other revelatory, controversial or conspiracist documentaries are made from. The Oscar is not for the quality of the film as it is for the subject. And, assuming that you are informed about the case - I still get the shivers when I see that most people I meet don't even know who Snowden is, you might find it difficult to understand why this movie is better than others, cinematically speaking.
Also, I feel that the film was way too focused on the journalistic process and too little on the actual meaning of the information or the aftermath of the disclosures. It is, actually, a human angle story more than a documentary about the biggest intelligence reveal of the last century. While not a bad thing, it is ironically what Snowden repeatedly said he does not want: to be the center of the story.
One gets to feel the alienation and pervasive angst that Snowden felt, even if this is sometimes done through cheap soundtrack tricks. One sees a smiling 29 year old become burdened more and more as time goes by. Less smiling, more dark patches under the eyes, more bewildered looks. And this while staying in hotels and having communication with people that relay his information and while being protected by a nation state. It is unimaginable what a normal person, without this safety net, would feel.
Bottom line: certainly worth watching, not so sure about the Oscar thing, but as long as that raises awareness of the subject matter, it is also worthy.
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