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The Fifth Estate

Posted on

The Fifth Estate

Current Status:
In Season
124 minutes
Wide Release Date:
Daniel Bruhl, Benedict Cumberbatch, Anthony Mackie
Bill Condon, R.J. Cutler
Walt Disney Pictures

We gave it a B+

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has reportedly dubbed this unauthorized biopic about his rise to notoriety ”a massive propaganda attack.” (The movie’s title is a play on ”the fourth estate,” a nickname for the media.) But director Bill Condon, who says Assange refused all attempts to collaborate on the film, disagrees vehemently. ”This is not remotely an attack on him,” he says. ”In its own strange, dark, journalistic-thriller kind of way, this is a buddy movie.”

The buddies in question are Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch, an online phenom in his own right thanks to a fan army who call themselves the Cumberbitches) and Assange’s onetime partner and friend Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl), whose bitter split with Assange inspired a 2011 memoir on which the film is partially based. Cumberbatch, who wore contacts, false teeth, and an array of white wigs to play Assange, was drawn to the role’s complexity. ”He’s an amazing, extraordinary, enigmatic figure of our modern times,” says the actor, who expects harsh criticism from Assange for his portrayal — though he isn’t too worried about WikiLeaks going after his private data in retribution. ”I’m not a bank with offshore accounts in the Canaries, I’m not wanted for war crimes,” he says. ”Anyway, the Cumberbitches have got my back, so I’ll be fine.”