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Citizenfour Review

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When director Laura Poitras is emailed out of the blue by Citizen Four, aka defence analyst Edward Snowden, she’s invited to chronicle the leak, and aftermath, of a scandal: the NSA’s relentless, worldwide surveillance program...

★★★★

The definitive 21st century documentary: a global tech conspiracy, leaked in real-time by its source, with an aftershock that absorbs the filmmaker into part of the story. Bunkered down in a Hong Kong hotel, Poitras records a stoic, paranoid Edward Snowden as he blows the whistle on the NSA’s planet-wide surveillance - then vaporises when the manhunt begins. The key dramatic question, Snowden’s motivation, is a footnote for Poitras, who cuts through the baffling, abstract magnitude of the NSA’s spying to deliver a stark, clear-eyed warning of the West’s vanishing freedoms. Tonally, it’s an eerie film of cold anxiety rather than tension; you’re pinned to your seat through sheer, shattering disbelief.

Bold, unblinking filmmaking – no less than a living document of a global scandal straight from the whistleblower. Alarming and essential – anyone with a phone should see it.