Liberty & Privacy (Movie Thoughts: Snowden)

snowdenWho needs horror films when you have ‘Snowden,’ which is a film that terrified me. I have to be honest. I never really followed this news story when it was happening, and I have not seen the Oscar winning documentary ‘Citizenfour,’ which is sort of the base for this film. So in a sense, a lot of the information here is new to me. It just scares me that in this day and age, everything we do on line can easily be searched and documented by the government. I know in times of distress, you have to forego some civil liberties, but does our privacy have to really suffer from it?

Directed by Oliver Stone, I was expecting a showy and bombastic film, but I found ‘Snowden’ to be very subdued. That is not to say that it is less effective, but at times it doesn’t feel like an Oliver Stone movie. I liked this film a lot, and I was instantly engrossed in the life of Edward Snowden, how he grew ranks in the government agencies. And then, how he used his conscience to expose the fact that everything we did (do?) was recorded, how all this information was used carelessly. I trust the information here is all true, and it gave me chills. I have to admit that I am guilty of giving information too freely at times, and this film made me want to be more cautious.

Joseph Gordon Leavitt gives a nice understated performance as Edward Snowden. I knwo some people have said he veered more towards mimicry, but I thought he was able to convey a very credible character, and I understood all his decisions and actions based on his performance.  I think a different actor would have given a showier performance – and that may have worked as well – but I am fine with what we did here.

So Is Snowden guilty?  He is still in Moscow, unable to come home and face his crimes. Should all his charges be dismissed, when it has been proven that his revelations changed policies? The film doesn’t really make a stand, but I bet you will.

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