Citizenfour (2014)

When you hear the word “Edward Snowden,” a lot of people have mixed responses.  Snowden leaked NSA secrets to journalists who then published the story to The Guardian by Glen Greenwald, which then led to a snowball (sorry for the pun) of news stories about internet and phone privacy.

Citizenfour is a documentary about how Snowden contacted Laura Poitras in an encrypted email always signing off as “citizenfour.”  Snowden, Poitras and Greenwald then met in Hong Kong before, during and after the story unfolded.

As a journalism student, the amount of access that was granted for both Poitras and Greenwald is amazing.  To have the chance to talk to the guy that leaked highly classified secrets of the NSA to the world is both incredibly frightening and amazing.

I only knew a few details about Snowden, I mainly associated him with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, but this movie was incredibly informative. Citizenfour of course had some bias to it, but it wasn’t anything that made me upset while watching it.  I liked how Poitras styled it so that the average person who doesn’t really know that much about the NSA and privacy laws could follow and understand how big of a deal that it is that the government is constantly watching its citizens.

There is certainly a paranoia feel to the film, which can be seen at the final seen where Snowden and Greenwald only speak to each other sitting in person and writing messages on a white piece of paper, which they tore up at the end.  The audience walks out of the movie feeling that Big Brother is always watching, so the fact the Poitras was able to convey that so well in her film speaks volumes about her work.

This film was incredibly interesting and had the action feel that one has after watching the Bourne movies.  It is dark and has this spy-danger feel.  I enjoyed it and would suggest it to those action film goers for a nice change from fiction to reality.

3.5 out of 5 stars


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