WikiLeaks and Julian Assange haven’t been quiet about taking issue with Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney’s film charting the rise and fall of the organisation and its ‘face’ – the opposite, in fact, going so far as to issue a line-by-line rebuttal of the script.
But while it’s true that Gibney doesn’t go easy on Assange – who by the end of the movie is accused of turning into the very thing he reviles – is it possible WikiLeaks doth protest too much?
Gibney makes a complicated story completely compelling, walking us through the finer details of this century’s most important political scandal (leaked diplomatic cables, blushes all round the Obama administration and may-or-may-not-be-linked sexual assault charges levelled at Assange) without ever getting bogged down.
He’s also been gifted an assembly of odd characters who cannot fail to fascinate – blogger Adrian Lamo, who really sets the story alight by snitching on the source of the leaks (cross-dressing army misfit Bradley Manning), makes Bad Santa’s Thurman Merman look socially competent.
The film asks more questions than it answers, which isn’t necessarily a weakness – part of the fun is getting caught up in the debate around right and wrong; did he or didn’t he? But it puts great stock in providing an insight into its main characters – Manning and Assange – when these are the only people Gibney didn’t interview.
The result, then, is more conjecture than anything else, but it’s thought-provoking stuff all the same. Read our interview with Gibney here.
Good for: Getting to grips with a captivating and historic scandal
Director: Alex Gibney | 15 | 130mins | Out July 12