WCBE

Risk

May 9, 2017

No risk on your part to see this informative doc.

Risk

Image courtesy of IMDb.

Grade: B+

Director: Laura Poitras (Citizenfour)

Cast: Julian Assange

Runtime: 1 hr 32 min

by John DeSando

“We don't have a problem, you have a problem.” Julian Assange

As the ever-cool Assange announces to Hillary’s campaign that leaks are forthcoming, he is slightly wrong: No one in the WikiLeaks world, on either side, is without problems.  For Assange, four years of asylum-imprisonment in the London Ecuador embassy could not be easy; for Hillary, leaked messages and her private use of a server are only the beginnings of her problems.

It’s all about info and who commands it—Laura Poitras’s doc, Risk, lets us in to the private world of the Australian journalist and programmer Assange, founder of WikiLeaks in 2006, enabler of Robert Snowden, and purveyor of thousands of pages of secret government documents.

Poitras does a remarkable job keeping above the political sides, even admitting at one point that she does not trust Assange. She makes her presence known from voice over, yet rarely pushes an agenda other than entertaining and enlightening her audience.

Poitras gives the audience as much insight as they could hope for with a subject as opaque as might be expected: “What does it matter how I feel?” (Assange) Brief moments with Lady Gaga and Daniel Ellsberg provide humorous respite from the monotony of Assange's imprisonment.

Assange’s answer as to why he does WikiLeaks is as evasive as his answers to most questions. Deflecting accusations of sexual harassment is pure Assange: He gently accuses hardcore feminists of a conspiracy against him.  Sweden still wants to interview him about the charges.

Whereas in Citizenfour, Poitras let Snowden come off as a hero, she does not cut the low-key Risk in a way to make Assange saintly: “The risk of inaction is extremely high,” he says in a reflection of his activist mentality and the title of the film.

He is smooth and careful, partly right and partly wrong, just like this documentary.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com