Thursday, 19 February 2015

Citizenfour (15) | Film Review


Citizenfour, dir. Laura Poitras, St. Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, William Binney, Jacob Appelbaum, Ewen MacAskill


Citizenfour is the ultimate behind-the-scenes documentary, B-roll of perhaps the most terrifying and interactive spy movie narrative ever told, formed and collated into a feature-length masterpiece, in which the NSA and GCHQ are the snoopers operating in plain sight with impunity, and we the viewer are the unwitting surveillees. Significantly, Poitras' film eschews the kind of enforced cinematic dramatics that hobble so many fascinating real-life stories; there's simply no need. The far-reaching implications of what Edward Snowden has to say to Poitras, investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, and The Guardian intelligence reporter Ewen MacAskill in a bedroom in Hong Kong's Mira Hotel inherently contain all the beats and shocking revelatory material of the best and most convoluted of tales. Beloved of Facebook statuses and Tweeters everywhere, the (purportedly) Edmund Burke quote, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men to do nothing." has become a catch-all citation used to indicate vague dissatisfaction with injustice, but Poitras' film transparently and unemotionally serves to highlight the extraordinary sacrifice Snowden made in coming forward. Unshaven, drawn, living out of one small suitcase and fretfully tapping out encrypted messages to his girlfriend back home as the repercussions of his revelations unfold, Snowden is the epitome of the reluctant hero. He even balks at the idea of the journalists tasked to disseminate his evidence personally naming him lest celebrity swamp the revelation of corruption, although he admits he'll be discovered soon enough. And indeed he was. Citizenfour is more than another widely-acclaimed Oscar-nominated picture; it is the very essence of a public service announcement, a desperately important reminder that there are still good men and women unwilling to stand by and do nothing.

Citizenfour is on Channel 4 and Channel 4 HD on Wednesday 25th February 2015 at 11.05pm.