#TIFF13: “THE FIFTH ESTATE”
Based on the Books Inside WikiLeaks by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and WikiLeaks by David Leigh & Luke Harding, Director Bill Condon‘s The Fifth Estate opens the Toronto International Film Festival this year in as explosive a fashion as the Website which it centers upon operates. The Thriller raises several questions, among them the implications of both sharing highly confidential information and also keeping it secret in this Age of Information.
Perhaps not the most flattering portrayal of WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch), The Fifth Estate is told through the eyes of Daniel Berg (Daniel Brühl), former Spokesperson for the anonymous platform for Whistleblowers. We witness his experience working closely with Assange and the selfless level of commitment required in the Website’s rise to prominence in becoming synonymous with leaking hard news first, publishing classified information which the Public otherwise never would have access to. Greatness of course comes at a cost and we see the personal ramifications and clashes which both Berg and Assange faced with the Law and also between themselves amidst one of the biggest potential shake-ups in U.S. History with the impending leak of a massive collection of documents.
Cumberbatch electrifies here, unquestionably committed as he transforms himself completely into the Man Assange would go on to become – impossibly driven and unapologetically repugnant, as our eyes are transfixed upon him. Brühl is sensational as Berg, drawing the ethical boundaries which so prominently are explored in The Fifth Estate, while a long-cinematically-absent Laura Linney is the most welcome surprise of all as White House Representative Sarah Shaw, shedding light on the impact of WikiLeaks on the American Conscience. Josh Singer‘s (The West Wing) Screenplay is detailed and process-oriented, easily an early Awards Season Contender and Carter Burwell‘s Electronica-heavy Score is hypnotic and an essential component of this Digital Landscape.
DreamWorks Pictures releases The Fifth Estate on Friday, October 18, 2013 and premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, September 5, 2013.