The Fifth Estate  (2013)    70/100

Rating :   70/100                                                                     128 Min        15

Telling the story of Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange, with the title referring to the traditional four estates of the clergy, the commoners, the nobility and the press and the posited operation of individuals freely publishing online (riotous revolutionaries that they are …) as a fifth pillar of modern civilisation, this film attempts the impossible – to give us a historical account of the rise and machinations of both the online whistle blowing mouthpiece, and Assange himself.

Directed by Bill Condon (‘Gods and Monsters’ 98, the last two Twilight films) an attempt has been made to bring some of the technical side of things to life graphically, which doesn’t work as well as intended, but the essence of the story and its relevance for intelligence agencies, governments and the general public across the world, not to mention Assange himself who is still currently for all intents and purposes a political prisoner in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, couldn’t be more fascinating or relevant.

The screenplay is based on two different published books on the topic, but there is always going to be that irritation of not knowing just what to believe, especially since here we see a very traditional almost pantomime character portrayal of Assange, which may or may not be accurate, but is doubtless one of the reasons he has disowned the film (see the clip below). With Daniel Brühl, David Thewlis, Peter Capaldi, Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie, Stanley Tucci and Alicia Vikander in support, Benedict Cumberbatch gives one of the best performances of his already very impressive career as Assange, replete with a convincing accent and mannerisms, ones which those who worked with the Australian have described as impressively accurate.

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