Film Review – The Fifth Estate (2013)

The Fifth Estate focuses on the early years of the website WikiLeaks up until its global impact after the leaking of thousands of US Government documents in the summer of 2010. WikiLeaks went from being relatively unknown to a worldwide news story. The film is based on the personal accounts of Daniel Domscheit-Berg and British journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding and therefore focuses on the relationship between Berg and Julian Assange in the early years from 2007 and how their friendship eventually broke down.

I found this film to be quite slow, particularly to start with and I imagine many people seeing the film will complain that it is a lot of talk but I expected this. It isn’t an action thriller; it’s an intelligent dialogue-heavy film and therefore won’t appeal to everyone. I do however think that director Bill Condon builds the tension in certain moments well, for example, as we watch a character hoping to cross the Syrian border.

Ultimately though The Fifth Estate is all about the central performances and I admit my main interest in going to see the film was to see Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange. The central performances by Cumberbatch and Daniel Brühl as Berg are very good indeed and raise the quality of the film substantially. Brühl is great at portraying Berg as a man caught between his ethical beliefs and his friend’s vision and belief in the transparency of all information no matter the cost. Cumberbatch is excellent as Assange, highlighting yet again his incredible range and versatility as an actor. There seems to be no role (on stage or screen) that he cannot do and his performance here is an extremely nuanced, effective portrayal of a man recognised worldwide but who still remains somewhat an enigma. His accent is very good in my opinion, but also each gesture and expression is thought through to transform him into Assange. In fact those who know him say it’s uncanny.

It would have been interesting to have a better understanding of Assange’s early life, which is only hinted at in this film, but the audience has to remember that as the film is based on Berg’s experience with him, such aspects could never fully be explored. I was also disappointed by how little we see some of the other characters, in particular Peter Capaldi and Dan Stephens at The Guardian. Both are great actors but don’t have much to do here.

Overall I enjoyed the film – it is an interesting insight into the central relationship behind one of the biggest news stories of the last decade and will be appreciated most by those who enjoy films such as The Social Network. I would probably describe it as an average film, which contains an excellent central performance by Benedict Cumberbatch, together with some notable supporting roles.

The Fifth Estate is out in cinemas now.


Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Si te consideras amante del chocolate, estás en blog adecuado.

Thoughts In Intervals

Tarryn Richardson

Telly Addict

I have been watching

Loitering In the Theatre

My experiences, good and bad, in London theatres.

West End Blog

Bringing you independent, honest, experienced reviews of current theatre shows. We believe theatre is something truly magical and can be enjoyed by everyone.

Mingled Yarns

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book

Cultural Capital

Theatre, arts and events in London


Theatre, Books, Food & Film/TV reviews

746 Books

Confessions of a Book Buying Addict

The Book Review Directory

Over 150 Book Reviewer Bloggers Listed

The Day - a Play

Theatre, Films, TV, Art

Cleopatra Loves Books

One reader's view

The X-Files Truth Podcast

"The following podcast is based on actual X-Files cases." Email:


Walking my way around the west end one show at a time

Semi-Partisan Politics

A semi-biased commentary on British and American politics, culture and current affairs


Movie and TV Reviews

Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth

Life, Faith and Comic Books

%d bloggers like this: