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TIFF 2013 Review: The Fifth Estate


The Fifth Estate feels like it should be written by Aaron Sorkin – but unfortunately it’s not. It’s still stylish and deftly told, but its geopolitical themes and the compelling figure at its centre would so benefit from a writing boost, one that stirs and challenges.

Two great performances keep this film riveting, one by Benedict Cumberbatch who disappears into the white-haired, slithery, methodical Julian Assange, and the other by Daniel Brühl, who plays Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a man who would be shunned by his colleague and go on to write a book about his experience.

The two meet just a few years before Assange and his group WikiLeaks releases the largest cache of wartime documents in what would be the biggest leak in American history. Assange, with his didactic speech and determination, charms Berg with idealistic thoughts of freedom and transparency.

Assange is fascinating: he is manipulative, monomaniacal, deranged, yet brilliant and possibly righteous, and Cumberbatch embraces all the layers, peeling them off slowly like an onion.

Conversations in the offices of The Guardian are most engaging, as are the ones between Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney, American officials who have to deal with the fallout. Those two, however, are brought in to the story just a bit too late.

A very good movie that could be great, picking up the pace after cataloguing Wiki’s rise, and instead focusing on the massive imminent leak.  It’s important and evocative, but needs to go just a bit deeper and darker to be more memorable.

[star v=3]

Anthony Marcusa

A pop-culture consumer, Anthony seeks out what is important in entertainment and mocks what is not. Inspired by history, Anthony writes with the hope that someone, somewhere, might be affected.