September, Fathom events – On Wednesday, September 14, Fathom Events presented “Snowden,” an expertly directed docu-drama by the incomparable Oliver Stone followed by a Live conversation with Edward Snowden (via the internet) and Oliver Stone and the two main actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley (live from NYC).

“Snowden” is the story of an idealistic young man by the name of Edward J. Snowden, probably the world’s most famous, or infamous, depending on your point of view, whistle-blower, who worked for National Security Agency and the C.I.A. as a data analyst, and whose experiences with those organizations lead him to question some accepted truths about patriotism, one’s responsibility to one’s country, and to ultimately challenge the very essence of authority.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Snowden does a remarkably empathetic representation of a shy, intelligent idealist, drawn to government intelligence work out of a sincere desire to serve his country and the gradual and cinemagraphically nuanced transition he experiences at those agencies from an unquestioning data analyst to either a patriotic whistle-blower or traitor depending on one’s point of view. Stone’s interpretation of the events clearly supports the former.

In contrast to many of Stone’s earlier efforts, “Snowden” is a remarkably restrained and intelligent film in both cinematic and political terms…no rage against the system or beating the drum of justified revolution.  Snowden is represented as a sincere and thoroughly rational idealist whom Stone frames within a world of divided loyalties, secrecy, and indications of astonishing world-altering power.  We witness his ethical angst within a very effective restrained cinematic context.  It’s a world of data, codes, and algorithms, a context within which Stone may in fact not be able to choose a course of unrestrained anger and leftist polemic as is typical in many of his earlier works.

Stone makes his case uncharacteristically a-political case with enormous skill, discretion, and restraint without the need to dazzle or enrage his audience.  “Snowden” is a clear and honest dramatization of one of the more outstanding news events of the past several years and worthy of our attention.