Film Review – Citizen K (2019)

Title – Citizen K (2019)

Director – Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side)

Cast – Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Vladimir Putin

Plot – Once one of Russia’s most wealthiest businessman, Mikhail Khodorkovsky finds himself in prison and an enemy to the countries ruthless leader Vladimir Putin.

“Oligarch. Prisoner. Dissident”

Review by Eddie on 08/07/2020

In case anyone out there was under the impression Russia and its long-serving leader Vladimir Putin were squeaky clean world players, Citizen K should do a fairly solid job of showcasing why the country and its president have long been one of the shadiest operators around.

Directed by Oscar winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, Citizen K is not a ground-breaking doco or an exploration of new or jaw-dropping information but its a film that features the usual Gibney polish and editing prowess that has seen him become one of the most respected directors in his field.

Delving into the life and times of one of Russia’s most wealthiest businessman turned prison inmate Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who against all the odds became an icon of sorts for the steady follower’s of the anti-Putin movement, Citizen K crams a lot of content into its two hour run-time as we explore Mikhail’s rise up the ranks in the Russian business community and his up and down relationship with those in charge of his country.

Now in exile in the U.K, Khodorkovsky acts as a cold but intelligent central figure to Gibney’s expose, offering up raw and honest insights into his backstory and the current predicament he finds himself in but the film works best when its focused on Putin himself, who while remaining mysterious and hard too read, makes for a fascinating subject as Gibney details his stunning journey to power that has now lasted well over 18 years.

One almost wishes Gibney had chosen to allot more time to Putin’s side of this story, as for many outside of Russia it’s hard to understand the true sentiment around the polarizing leader and how many of Russia’s everyday citizens feel about the man that has pulled them along to become the powerhouse they are today, but at what long-lasting detriment for the future years ahead? The future where Russia and Putin will no longer go hand in hand.

You can almost sense Gibney wrestling with himself throughout Citizen K, understanding Khodorkovsky’s story alone wasn’t enough to build this feature around, the film at times feels torn in regards to what it wants to achieve, even if its at all times a solidly and thoughtfully put together piece.

Final Say –

As always Gibney delivers a well-made documentary with Citizen K but there’s nothing here of a long lasting nature, just further evidence around Russia’s shady operations and a want to know more about its mysterious central figure.

3 Blueberry Hill renditions out of 5  

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