Laura Poitras is hot stuff in the doc world right now. After her embed with Edward Snowden in CitizenFour, she’s now in with Julian Assange. She’s a piece of filmic malware documenting our tech world.
Thing is, I can’t actually stand to watch the geeks and their coding-induced paranoia. It might be the point of these docs but the sense of self-importance these people get from their mastery of a computer keyboard just doesn’t have empathy and drama for me.
Assange in particular is deeply unpleasant to watch. That may be Poitras’ point, but it doesn’t make the film any the more enlightening. Quite why we even give Assange such prominence baffled me. His ego, his pinched little face, his cult of personality, his massive misconception of himself as someone who matters is fascinating to a point, and I suppose quite a few people were taken in by him.
There’s a bit where the great and good of liberal thought flock to his aid, no less a luminary than Dame Helena Kennedy offering to help him when he’s accused of rape by two women in Sweden. Helena’s breezy and helpful for about five minutes, then quickly realises this guy’s a dick.
Maybe that’s interesting, a film about a slimy jerk who may or may not be revealing important state secrets. Governments, secret service agents and big corporations are bad. Thanks Julian, I thought they were all here to help and keep us safe.
If Assange were doing whatever it is he does for some sense of common good, then that would help. But he appears to have no cause and certainly Poitras never gets to the heart of that matter, if there’s even a heart there. Wikileaks might be not for profit, but it’s all for Julian.