Anyone who has been following my work on PopWrapped can tell that I am a HUGE Benedict Cumberbatch fan (I may or may not have written close to 20 articles on him to date…). So when I heard the TIFF lineup and that Mr. Cumberbatch would be star of the festival, my excitement went through the roof.
I made it my mission to get tickets for one of the three movies Cumberbatch had opening; The Fifth Estate and Twelve Years a Slave being my top two.
Unfortunately, come the day of single ticket sales; one thing led to another and by the time I was able to get online everything was sold out.
Instead of wallowing in self pity, I decided to head downtown the first day of TIFF when The Fifth Estate was premiering. The day didn’t start out so hot – let’s just say it involves me, the ground, and one of the busiest areas in Toronto. When I got the venue I saw a line and immediately got into it thinking it was for the red carpet. Little did I know my luck was about to change; it was a line for rush tickets, and the chances of getting them were very good.
Well I got them, and I was at the World Premier of The Fifth Estate. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the venue Cumberbatch was attending, but the director Bill Condon showed up to introduce the film.
Now before I go on I should put a spoiler warning, but if you kept up with the news and Assange’s story, most of the major plot points will already be common knowledge. But, if you aren’t fully aware of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange there will be spoilers ahead!
Based on WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War by two journalists at the Guardian – David Leigh and Luke Harding – and WikiLeaks: My Time with the most dangerous website in the world by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, The Fifth Estate is exactly what it has been promoted as: the story of the rise of WikiLeaks and the effects of it on everyone involved. The film even added fictional characters to the story to add depth and a subplot to try and give more of the craziness all the leaks caused. Those characters are Laura Linney’s Sarah Shaw, Stanley Tucci’s James Boswell, and Anthony Mackie’s Sam Coulson – they played US government officials.
The story begins with Assange (Cumberbatch) and Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) meeting and going into a partnership with WikiLeaks. I personally feel like I got the most out of the beginning (and another part that I will mention later on). This is because I already knew about the bigger leaks, so learning about how it started up and the process it took to get it to where it was, all the research it took to prove a leak was real, the travelling to build up the servers; it was all new and interesting for me.
My favourite part about this film was all the discussion on the field of journalism itself and all the changes it has been going through in the 21st century. There were discussions on churnalism, on citizen journalism, and on the state of journalism today and what it takes to succeed. For a person who has just finished her journalism specialist and has spent four years talking about the exact same thing, it was great hearing these discussions on the big screen.
The most moving section was when the WikiLeaks team gets the infamous “collateral murder” video. They actually show bits of the video and when you are watching it doesn’t really take much to feel so much in those moments - it was like watching the video again for the first time. The emotion that showed up with the actors felt genuine, if it was me it definitely would have been genuine.
For me, the two standout roles went to David Thewlis, who played a journalist at the Guardian, and, of course, Cumberbatch as Julian Assange. That’s not to say that I didn’t find Brühl’s Daniel Domscheit-Berg wasn’t any less impressive, because he too was great; showing his frustration at Assange and his dedication to doing the right thing (in his eyes) at the end.
I thought that Thewlis’ character brought a lot to the table. He caught on to the WikiLeaks craze before anyone else in the news industry; he approached Assange early in his fame and made himself approachable. Basically, Thewlis’ character, Nick Davies, did everything he was supposed to do when it came to acquiring a great source.
Despite the other great performances in the movie, I don’t think anything touches Cumberbatch’s Assange.
Not only are the similarities in looks uncanny, but you can tell just how much Cumberbatch studied Assange’s mannerisms and the Australian accent to get them down pat. And those dance moves? Perfection. Is
After the journalism discussions and themes, I have to say that the very ending is another favourite of mine. You have Cumberbatch in what would be the political asylum of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where Assange is currently staying, doing an interview and answering questions like Assange would…it was great and definitely attested to the amount of research Cumberbatch did for the role.
Will Oscar be calling for this role? We’ll have to see, but I think there is a definite possibility.
I’m no movie critic, so I can’t tell you if there was spotty directing or if something didn’t work, but I can tell you that I enjoyed the film. The subject matter was interesting and it featured great performances by the actors and actresses involved. For that I gave the film 4 out of 5 stars.
The Fifth Estate Will hit theatres on October 11 in the UK and October 18 in the US.
Watch the trailer below: