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Citizenfour (2014)

Updated on May 25, 2015

The Poster

The Review

A Review by: Jeff Turner

Dir: Laura Poitras

Produced by: Praxis Films, HBO.

Featuring: Laura Poitras, Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Jacob Appelbaum, Julian Assange.

CITIZENFOUR may not be this critics favorite film of 2014. However, it is easily the most important film the year has produced. Regardless of your stance on the NSA debate and on Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras’ excellent documentary offers a portrayal of Snowden that the media has not shown.

CITIZENFOUR follows the week before Edward Snowden initially leaks the information on the NSA’s invasions on American privacy. The film is both meant to ignite the NSA debate and offer a deconstruction of the persona the media has depicted of Snowden. It is adept at painting Snowden as just a guy, a guy who happens to have the resources to act on his conscience.

What’s incredible about CITIZENFOUR is its atmosphere. Poitras takes a cue from David Fincher and uses Trent Reznor compositions for the movie’s score. The music adds to the film’s tension, although even for a documentary, CITIZENFOUR is remarkably tense.

Some of the material here will make you think of a pulpy spy thriller, Snowden is completely off the grid, having opportunities to actually speak with Poitras only very rarely. CITIZENFOUR is a documentary that works just as well as a thriller.

The picture comes strongly recommended. The discussion on the NSA’s surveillance has faded, as many debates 24 hour news starts do, but it is just as important now as it was when Snowden leaked the information. The debate is much bigger than this one guy, as Snowden is keen to point out when interviewed, but he has become a face that the movement still needs.

★★★★

Suggestion: See it (or HBO Go it)

The Trailer

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