Catherine Shoard of The Guardian says Benedict Cumberbatch shines with a virtuoso impersonation of Julian Assange in Academy Award writer/director Bill Condon’s (Dreamgirls, Chicago) The Fifth Estate. The film is garnering Oscar buzz, with Shoard saying, “Good job TIFF, starting out the Festival with a sizzling hot potato.”
This doesn’t appear to be a self-serving compliment even though The Guardian played an important role in the publication of hundreds of thousands of classified secret documents and diplomatic files and war reports. The screenplay by Josh Singer (The West Wing) is inspired in part by Guardian journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding’s book WikiLeaks, as well as WikiLeaks employee and spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s (played in the film by Inglorious Basterds Daniel Bruhl, who is also premiering in Ron Howard’s Rush at TIFF) biopic, Inside WikiLeaks: My Time At The Most Dangerous Website In The World.
Variety was equally enthusiastic, calling the film “Intelligent, timely and suspenseful. A great job by all, especially Cumberbatch. Dealing with the changing morality of the digital age, the film will be catnip for young audiences and baby-boomers alike.”
The Fifth Estate has been flying a little under the radar in what is being called a strong year for fact-based films (such as Belle, Dallas Buyers Club, Devil’s Knot, Invisible Woman, Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom, One Chance, Railway Man and Rush). Said Variety, “The Fifth Estate has a similar challenge to The Social Network. Critics and audiences don’t really know what WikiLeaks is, they could be confused by the actions. But ultimately it is a film about privacy, transparency and secrets. It is a thrilling film, full of ideas that is ultra-smart.”
TIFF opened last night (9/5) at the Roy Thompson Hall with a special tribute to Roger Ebert. His wife, Chaz Ebert was presented with a special plaque recognizing Roger Ebert’s 30 years of supporting TIFF. A grateful Chaz responded, “Our world leaders are all at the G20 Summit, but some of them should be here at TIFF to see what it’s like to be a child living in a refugee camp, or a person living in poverty. They should know.”
The Fifth Estate is from Dreamworks, Touchstone Pictures, Participant Media and Reliance Entertainment. It opens in theaters October 18 th.