Title: The Fifth Estate
Director: Bill Condon
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl, Anthony Mackie, David Thewlis, Alicia Vikander, Stanley Tucci, Laura Linney.
The first estate is the clergy, the second estate is the nobility, the third estate are the commoners, the fourth estate is the press and the fifth estate is a group within a society that operates through news outlets, in opposition to the mainstream media, to express viewpoints that go beyond restrictions and censorship. The third millennium’s “Fifth Estate” watchdogs, whistleblowers, anonymous sources of classified information, have created the WikiLeaks phenomena, that forever changed the game, and was lead by Julian Assange with the help of his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg.
‘The Fifth Estate’ film reveals the quest to expose the deceptions and corruptions of power that turned an Internet upstart into the 21st century’s most fiercely debated organisation. Bill Condon’s dramatic thriller is based on two books ‘Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website’ by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and ‘WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy’ by David Leigh and Luke Harding.
The screenplay by Josh Singer details the rise of one of the most explosive websites in history, as Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) team up to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful. The two men create the WikiLeaks platform, that shines a light on the dark recesses of government secrets and corporate crimes. But when Assange and Berg gain access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history, they battle each other on whether it’s worth jeopardising people’s lives to expose government secrets, in the name of a free society.
Bill Condon’s biopic is heavy on detail and melodrama but is somehow missing the spark from its remarkable real-life inspiration. Technically and digitally the telematic world is accentuated to exhaustion in every single frame. Benedict Cumberbatch demonises Assange and portrays him like a fanatic, in opposition to Daniel Brühl, who embodies Daniel Domscheit-Berg as the conscientious talking cricket of the situation. As a matter of fact it seems like Assange himself did not approve of the film’s content, direction or attitude.
The meticulous account on the life of the Australian activist-reporter (who started hacking in youth under the name “Mendax” – derived from a phrase of Horace “splendide mendax”, i.e. “nobly untruthful”), along with his vain paranoia and delusion of intellectually hovering above the world around him, turns out to be a boring movie for the lack of thrilling energy.
Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi