Reality: A great actress in the service of an intriguing work (review)

Reality: A great actress in the service of an intriguing work (review)

An exciting film both in substance and in form about a whistleblower, where Sydney Sweeney impresses in the title role.

The fifth power by Bill Condon on Julian Assange, Snowden by Oliver Stone on Edward Snowden… Hollywood fiction has so far struggled to rise to the height of the whistleblowers’ destinies, as incredible as they are romantic. As if only the documentary (the remarkable Citizenfour by Laura Poitras, Oscar winner in 2015) had the capacity. The beautiful idea of ​​Tina Satter with Reality is to be in a hybrid form, precisely between fiction and documentary, to tell Reality Winner, veteran of the US Air Force employed by the NSA less known to the general public than Snowden or Assange, but who in 2018 was the first launcher of alert condemned under the Espionage Act under President Donald Trump. With a record 5-year sentence for leaking a classified document revealing a Russian hacking attempt in Trump’s election.

Passionate about the subject (which had already inspired an off-Broadway play), the director therefore decided to explore it by relying – to the words and silences – on the transcription of the audio recording of the interrogation of Reality Winner at her home by two FBI agents. But by having the situation replayed by actors. The result is exciting. First because it destabilizes and thus instantly puts us in the head of Reality – disconcerted to see the FBI agents arriving at her home – then in the strange atmosphere – which one could often believe escaped from a film or a a series of Lynch – of this interrogation that she asks to do at home in an empty room of her house. Here, the form completely marries the substance and plays in a certain way with the first name of the whistleblower – Reality, you can’t make it up! – to precisely question the notion of reality, eminently more complex than it seems at first glance, combined more in the plural than in the singular and more than ever at the heart of our time with the daily avalanche of fake news. And all of this is carried by an exceptional Sydney Sweeney in the role of this young woman with disarming normality and her way of gradually revealing her ambiguities, her gray areas, her complexity. You loved her in Euphoria And White Lotusyou will love it in Realitywith finally on the big screen a role worthy of his talent!

By Tina Satter. With Sydney Sweeney, Josh Hamilton, Marchant Davis… Duration: 1h22. Released August 16, 2023

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