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About the Movie
CITIZENFOUR is a real life thriller, unfolding by the minute, giving unprecedented access to Edward Snowden as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the NSA.
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 138
- Fresh: 133
- Rotten: 5
- Average Rating: 8.3/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: Poitras' movie works even better as a horror picture -- perfect for Halloween week.
Fresh: Citizenfour plays like a thriller as it chronicles a complex and vitally important chapter in our history.
Fresh: If you think Snowden is a traitor, you should probably see it. If you think he's a hero, you should probably see it. If you haven't made up your mind - well, you get the idea.
Fresh: A first-hand, up-close account of Snowden that allows us to meet and judge the man for ourselves.
This isn’t so much a documentary as a home video by someone who hates to edit. There are endless scenes of Snowden typing on a keyboard, Greenwald typing on a keyboard, Snowden putting in his contacts and applying hair gel, cameras at a press conference, etc. etc. etc.
What’s missing is anything new or interesting. Not once does anyone ask Snowden why he decided to blow the whistle. Not once is he asked to describe the process by which he went from tech support to whistle blower. Not once do we see any of the journalists reacting to a new document or secret. Not once do we get a feel for the discussions that must have taken place inside the various press agencies about how much to release and how much to keep secret — or even the basis for making those judgments.
There is absolutely nothing in here you haven’t heard before. Save your money and watch John Oliver’s Snowden interview on “Last Week Tonight”. It’s a much, much better window on both the man and the shocking scenario he revealed.
The Most Groundbreaking Documentary I’ve Ever Laid Eyes On
The most important film you will see all year - possibly ever - is “Citizenfour”. This is the single-most groundbreaking documentary I’ve ever laid eyes on, surpassing some of Michael Moore’s greatest works. The amount of people that will be affected due to the information in this film is staggering. Every American owes it to themselves to see this. It will undoubtedly change the way you operate and think in more ways than one.
As you may already know, the film centers around Edward Snowden, the much-talked about ‘whistleblower’ that leaked an enormous amount of top secret information concerning the National Security Agency. It revealed the many ways that the NSA was spying on billions of people, creating a huge political conversation.
However, “Citizenfour” in no way participates in that conversation. It doesn’t try to debate whether it was right or wrong for them to do that, it leaves all of that up to its subject. That’s one of the countless reasons why it succeeds. It isn’t a documentary that needs a ton of flare, it’s actually quite the opposite. It states the facts, lets us decide how we feel about it, and all in the most simplistic and brilliant manner.
The majority of it takes place in one hotel room where Laura Poitras (the director of the film) and Glenn Greenwald (the first journalist to leak the story) listen to everything Snowden has to say. We watch them go over the program files and documents that serve as the evidence of what the NSA has done - scenes that include astounding stats and figures - those being some of the most powerful moments I’ve ever witnessed. It’s a gut-punch of a movie, but one that’s undeniably needed
Loving, longing, shocking
For those not already familiar with the content of the leaks, the film will be deeply shocking. For others, it will be a harrowing but rewarding encouragement to continue looking for the truth in a very difficult area of modern citizenship. Poitras seems to be on her way to being one of the best living documentary film makers.