It was only a matter of time before they made a movie about WikiLeaks. The secret sharing website has just been too hot, and controversial, of a topic in recent years to not be made into a film, The Fifth Estate. But before the film had even been released, its main focus, Julian Assange, had already spoken out vehemently against the film. Everything seemed to be in order: a major production of a timely, important story with big names like Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange and Daniel Brühl as Daniel Domscheit-Berg, one of the first to become involved with WikiLeaks…after Assange, that is.
It’s hard to realize just how much WikiLeaks accomplished in such a short period of time. From one day giving a poorly attended lecture at the Chaos Computer Club’s Berlin conference to then bringing to light election scandals in Africa and then getting on the United States government’s radar. The relationship between Assange and Domscheit-Berg is the focus of the film. Assange is portrayed as a sort of nerdy, eccentric loner while Domscheit-Berg’s optimism and eagerness to create change sees him giving up his girlfriend to focus on the site.
While it’s not surprising that Assange spoke out against the film, it’s rather unclear what he was so afraid of. It isn’t until WikiLeaks starts leaking documents from Bradley Manning that his character comes into question. And even then he isn’t portrayed as an evil monster. Meanwhile the major downfall of The Fifth Estate is that it is little Hollywooded up. The scenes from Washington, in particular, are a little much. Similarly the speed with which the film moves makes it sometimes hard to follow without already knowing the back story. Those things aside, The Fifth Estate is an interesting take on what you didn’t know about something you thought you knew everything about.