Citizenfour 3.0 stars

Citizenfour movie poster

A real-life international espionage thriller centered around the eight days that filmmaker Laura Poitras, journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden spent in a Hong Kong hotel room while the NSA domestic surveillance story broke. It provides a rare experience: as Poitras has put it, “the moment when it was happening, when [Snowden] had decided that he would walk away from his life. He knew there was no way to go back on that.” Snowden is very much a talking head, but such a head, and such talk. The man knew what he was about, and why, and how to go about getting it done. (Short version: he wanted to help keep the electors and the elected from becoming the ruled and the rulers.) For her part, Poitras knows that the viewer will be able to take only so much of Snowden’s predicament: stuck in a hotel room, watching the world react via cable news. So she wisely (and regularly) takes us outside for a breath of context. The result is alarming in the best sense of the word. 2014.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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