Film Review – CitizenFour


Last week a half dozen films arrived in Australian Cinemas, this is one of just a couple that are “Must-See” titles.

Alongside Selma , CitizenFour is a startling look at the U.S. Government and it’s oftentimes frightening policies.

Selma has two Oscar nominations including Best Picture, and CitizenFour is nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

One of the lines that has stuck with me about this film is “The American Government behaves as the Ruler over the Ruled, when it should be acting as the Representative chosen by the people in a democracy,” or words to that effect.

Exactly how far off the mark, the notion of a democratic society the citizens of the United States DO inhabit, is laid bare in this stunning documentary from director Laura Poitras who travelled to Hong Kong to meet an anonymous whistleblower who turned out to be Edward Snowden – the American computer professional who leaked classified information from the National Security Agency to the mainstream media, starting in June 2013.

You may be familiar with the facts of the case which are fascinating enough, but what is even more riveting about this film is the way the tension gets ratcheted up notch by notch with every fresh development as the story unfolds firstly in The Guardian newspaper, and then across the world.

I had a preview copy to watch on my laptop, and watching it over the internet in a hotel room in America was an unnerving experience. I half expected the men in black to kick in my door at any second.

When Snowden is being interviewed in his hotel room in Hong Kong and there is an unexpected interruption, you can see the alarm on his face as he begins to grasp exactly how big a lid he has just blown off.

Technically the film does not offer much, at times you long for a tripod, but it’s not about that, it’s about the guts of one guy against the largest power on the planet.

4 Stars.

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