wed 24/07/2024

LFF 2012: Underground | reviews, news & interviews

LFF 2012: Underground

LFF 2012: Underground

Gripping recreation of Julian Assange's early years

Bedroom warrior: young Julian Assange (Alex Williams, centre) investigates

As Julian Assange continues to hold the world’s authorities at bay behind embassy doors, this new biopic offers Young Assange: a Melbourne teenager among the first generation of computer hackers, who cracked the Pentagon’s code on the Gulf War’s eve.

Australian writer-director Robert Connolly specialises in lean, socially committed thrillers, and makes the tapping of keyboards and inner workings of Assange’s brain gripping enough. Alex Williams plays Assange with now familiar arrogance, mixed with youthful vulnerability. Connolly sources his disdain for power in an adolescence spent being hunted across Australia with his mum (Rachel Griffiths) by a white supremacist cult, to the authorities’ sluggish indifference. This Julian is his mother’s boy, taking her unambiguous activism to a new level of high-tech effect. Finding evidence of US-targeted mass civilian deaths in Iraq, he decides to reveal it: jigsaw-pieces in the man the Pentagon (and for far different reasons, Sweden’s police) would still like to grab.  

This is a period film. “Can you get me someone who’s got one?” Anthony LaPaglia’s Melbourne cop wearily asks, of a computer-free police station initially outwitted by Assange with youthful ease. The city’s punk squatland at the end of the ‘80s, where Assange ignores a young wife and baby son, coldly withdrawing into his Commodore 64, are also strongly evoked.

In the Q&A afterwards with Suelette Dreyfus, author of the film’s source book, people are surreptitiously filming and absently tapping on phones, casually living in a world which, in long-ago 1989, it took a genius of commitment such as Assange to master.

Assange ignores a young wife and baby son, coldly withdrawing into his Commodore 64


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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