Documentary Review: Citizenfour (2014)

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You ever have the feeling that you are being watched? As in, whenever. Well those fears have in recent years been justified. Whether you’ve been on your computer or on your cellphone, you’re always watched. So have great respect for those who stand up to these types of stiuations. These so called “whistleblowers”.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Citizenfour”.

In “Citizenfour” we follow a documentarian and a reporter who travel to Hong Kong to meet with former NSA-employee Edward Snowden. If you didn’t know, NSA is a government-funded orgainzation that spies on basically every person in the U.S. (and probably a lot of other countries. And Snowden is the man who got sick of that shit and decided to leak out the fact that people were being spied on to the public. And I’m not gonna lie, I have a lot of respect for the guy. He risked life, limb and family to let people know that their own government were spying on them. And while this movie really is on the side of Snowden, it never feels like it straight up says “Snowden good, government bad”. It’s more like “The government did this shitty thing and Snowden was brave enough to expose it”. It also manages to somehow portray the events and story in a pretty tense way. So it not only feels like a documentary but also feels a little bit like a tense drama. And a lot of that comes from not doing the typical “Sit in a chair and talk to the camera” style, but rather be there as an observer and watch all of these events/interviews unfold. And that is what I love with how they portrayed the story aspects of “Citizenfour”. It feels like a real and unique movie thanks to the excellent way all of this is presented. I mean, I was rivited the whole way through and loved every minute of it.

The funny part about the soundtrack is that they really only use portions of songs. And those portions come from the Nine Inch Nails album “Ghosts I – IV”. And not only do they actually fit when used, but they manage to add something to the movie that I can’t really explain properly. I also appreciate that they chose to limit the use of music. If they had used music all the time/too much in the movie it would’ve ruined it. But luckily they had the perfect amount in this movie.

This is a movie that looks terrific. Sure, it isn’t always steady if we put it like that, but I have no problem with it since it’s simply handheld, not shaky-cam. Also, they don’t overdo it, it all looks great. It almost has a Michael Mann quality to it. But when they do use steady shots it looks fantastic. Also, “Citizenfour” is apparently part of some kind of trilogy that takes a look at the U.S. post 9/11. So maybe I should check the other ones in the trilogy at some point?

“Citizenfour” was released to almost universal acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% (100% is you go by “Top Critics” only) positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 88/100. And on good ol’ imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10. The movie also won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Documentary. 

“Citizenfour” goes beyond being a normal documentary, in a way it manages to actually become a really tense drama about a man on the run(ish). It presents the story of Edward Snowden and the NSA in a way that keeps it interesting from beginning to end. It also benefits from not being your standard “Sit in a chair and talk to the camera” documentary. The soundtrack’s pretty great too. Time for my final score which I stole from the NSA before running. My final score for “Citizenfour” is a 9,87/10. It most definitely deserves the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

Review of “Citizenfour” is completed.

Question of the day: Are you on the side of Snowden? Or are you against him and his actions?

 

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