By Rachel Baron, Guest Blogger
The Fifth Estate is history in the present. With the Real Julian Assange still holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the film details the rise and fall of WikiLeaks, based on a book written by his computer-hacking cohort, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, played to droll perfection by Daniel Brühl. This may not seem like the most obvious choice for a date movie, but there are moments of romance and the development of friendships, and ultimately the demise of most of these relationships.
Benedict Cumberbatch transforms himself into Assange – visually and orally. Just as he became Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness, Cumberbatch is hidden under accent and makeup. But this is the man just voted “Sexiest Actor” in England, and if you look hard enough, his cold, blue eyes pierce the screen and straight into your heart. He’s creepy, and mesmerizing, frightened and charming. A child caught in a cult and an organization of one.
Directed by Bill Condon, the man behind two parts of the Twilight Saga, Dreamgirls and the cult favorite Gods and Monsters, utilizes a punk soundtrack and quick editing cuts a la David Fincher music videos and films (think Seven and The Social Network.) The visuals convey a sense of urgency, as well as set the scene for the modernity of this 21st century issue.
Mr. Assange read the screenplay, and has described the film as a “serious propaganda attack on WikiLeaks and the integrity of the staff,” as well as “a lie built upon a lie.” Throughout the film, we get glimpses into his life, including why his hair is prematurely gray, and why his childhood played a role in the development of WikiLeaks and his desperate need for openness and transparency.
This is a film that delves into the psyche of a man determined to decimate cover-ups, lies and human rights violations among the world’s elite. But we begin to wonder if his need for free speech is about justice or about making himself omnipotent. Assange and his “cyberjournalism” swept stories out from under traditional news organizations to expose these truths. He’s a 21st century whistleblower without accountability or remorsefulness, releasing information into a world that craves more information than any time in history.
In the end, American and British newspapers did print thousands of leaks with redactions. And soon after, WikiLeaks printed the same cables. Without redactions.
The film begs the question; “did he go to far?” The world may still be learning the answer.
Rachel Baron is a working stay-at-home mom, because she never catches up on the DVR, has no interest mah-jong and always has something that needs to get done. A former copywriter that takes on a gig when she can get it, has an only child in Kindergarten who she worries about often, and a husband that was blessed with a woman with very poor housewifey skills. You can find her blog at www.testimommy.com, where she swears to tell the parenting truth. For copywriting needs, check out www.copythatsways.com where you’ll get verklempt over ads about celebrity fragrances, deodorant and butter alternative.