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Movie Review: 'The Fifth Estate' Inspires Curiosity


Almost nobody is as ignorant about internets and websites and computers as I am, so I assume that almost anybody will understand The Fifth Estate better than I did.

But even if I didn't learn as much as I hoped to about WikiLeaks and how it relays all kinds of confidential government documents to the world at large, I enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch's interpretation of Julian Assange, the Australian journalist maverick who made WikiLeaks an international problem.

Not that The Fifth Estate really tells you a lot about him as a man. He pops onto the screen whenever there is some big moment in what almost amounts to an outline than a complete story. He's apparently without a home or even family, and with no friends outside the business of WikiLeaks.

You really only get two aspects of Assange's character, but they make an odd combination that keeps your curiosity aroused. On the one hand, he's the purest of idealists, totally dedicated to letting everybody know the Truth about corporations and governments, even if it costs a few innocent lives. On the other hand, he's a total egomaniac who demands complete unquestioning loyalty from everybody else, though he's realistic enough to realize he has to keep working with what the world offers.

The closing titles of The Fifth Estate reveal how much the movie ignores his private life, if he has any, and I respect its concentration on what matters. It has inspired me to want to seek more details and it suggests where to start.

It doesn't do much more, but maybe that's enough.