The review at Rogerebert is exceptionally good so below is the link.
"It’s a mystery to me why he trusts me, because I don’t think he likes me." Laura Poitras
Assange has already told her about his feelings when she films him with Lady Gaga's interview with him. Gaga's first question is "How do you feel?"
Assange tells her, Why do you ask how I feel? How I feel doesn't matter."
So whether he likes Poitras or not has nothing to do with why he gives her unprecedented access. He trusts her.
Why he doesn't like the film is why he doesn't like seeing himself in this film. His vulnerability is palpable. I would not like to see myself on film like that either. I would hate it, feel shamed. And yet it has made me love and admire him even more.
So much criticism of Assange himself and interpretations of his presence and performative mode for the camera. When will critics heed Baudrillard and understand that WHENEVER the camera is filming, those being filmed are performing. The subject and the object cannot be divorced, separated, perceived separately. Forget it. This is true of the animal abuses on youtube DONE FOR THE CAMERA to torture the viewers, to force them to click and accuse them and try to ban them, apprehend them, stop them, shame them and all that happens is that the notoriety they desire has been bestowed on them.
Assange is absolutely aware of the camera. It has been noted that he and his associates hate this film. Well if I were Assange I would hate it after watching myself in it. Poitras has captured Assange in so many big screen close ups that he is revealed. But only if you yourself can read him.The critics have distanced themselves from him to critique him, then accused him of egotism, manipulation, etc. Denounced him for his outburst at PC Feminists for the accusations of rape in Sweden at him. It has since been leaked that these women were pretty much forced to bear witness against him. One can imagine the consequences if they refused. So they caved.When the US government couldn't get anything serious on a member of the Mafia they always resorted to Income Tax Evasion to put them behind bars. Nowadays the go to crime is raping a woman, sexual misconduct, and or pedophile activities somewhere in the present or past. I imagine sometimes it is true, but WHEN YOU CRY WOLF you wear out your accusations.
As Poitras focuses her camera on Assange blown up to full screen, all I can see is his tender mouth. It has a slight tremor to it, like a child holding back tears displays. When questioned he answers as he thinks out the reply he wishes to make considering the camera will record it forever. He does not use cliches, sound bites, rhetoric, but tries to be clear, unemotional while feeling very emotional,and yes, this is a performance. But how could it be otherwise?
And as the time sequence follows from 2010 to the 2016 election, sometimes out of joint to me, we see the early Assange in a lovely home in the UK answering a question by using the metaphor of a personal garden. Has he read Kosinski's Being There with Chauncey Gardiner's aphoristic garden replies?
You have a garden and when there are weeds you want to get rid of them so your garden can be healthy and grow. That is your perception of your garden. My perception is the world.
And that is his tragedy and any of us who feel the same about our world, our planet. The refugees, starving children, the sickening fate of animals being tortured, brutally slaughtered willfully or for food as it really doesn't matter what reason they are made to suffer so by the brutality of humans who have been so brutalized themselves they know not what they do. All this is inscribed on the face of Julian Assange. And this is my reading of Poitras's film.
There is a major difference between Assange and Snowden and Chelsea Manning in how their revelations were meant to be revealed. Manning just sent them to wikileaks.Snowden wanted Greenwald to handle their "careful" dissemination. To protect us? In other words Snowden wished some sort of control on how they would surface, be read, be understood. Greenwald has controlled the careful and rather slow publishing of them. Still there is a treasure trove we have not seen and at this point in time does anyone really care?
Assange trusts the public. He DUMPS them in a heap on us. We read them out of sequence, each one as an EVENT, the way the world is accoring to Foucault and the Continental Philosophers. The impact of the Podesta, Hillary, Campaign manager leaks were far more violent on us than Snowden's. We knew we were being under surveillance, we just got the proof. But those emails were so violent, so unbelievable that political leaders of the US could stoop to such sickening high school pernicious, destructive antics that they never seemed real to me. And yet I did not doubt them for a minute. How is it possible that adults are so unconsciously corrupt they can play at this in a real game for control of the world. And how is it possible so many can deny their validity and blame Russia for interfering in our election when we have interfered in elections for decades and decades?
This cannot be fixed. Sadly so many critics wish to focus on the psychological personality of Assange. Why don't they know that interpretation is over, dead, finished along with the Dominating Discourse of the Dialectic of Thesis and Antithesis..