The Daily Beast Obsessed
Everything we love, hate, and can’t stop thinking about this week in pop culture.
Traitor or Patriot – that is the question realityWriter/director Tina Sater’s HBO film adaptation of her Broadway play Is this a room? About an informant on the verge of arrest. Its title is the name of its protagonist and a reference to the nature of its story, and reality A stage play about the thin line that separates truth from lies, honor from deceit. Though its real-life story ultimately proves a bit too one-note, it makes up for its thinness with a powerhouse lead turn from Sidney Sweeney as a woman caught up in a nerve-wracking mess of her own making. .
Its dialogue is taken from transcripts of FBI interviews and recordings (and sometimes simulcasted on screen), reality is set over the course of about two hours on June 3, 2017, in the small, one-level brick home of National Security Agency translator Reality Winner (Sweeney) in a very nice section of Augusta, Georgia.
Arriving home with groceries in tow, Victor is greeted by Wally (Marchant Davis) and Justin (Josh Hamilton). They are both FBI agents, and they have a warrant to search Viner’s residence, his car, and his person, including his phone, which they request while still on the front lawn. Wearing a short-sleeved checkerboard button-down (Justin) and an Under Armor polo shirt (Wallace), respectively, with matching khaki pants, the men affect cheery casualness. However, it is clear from the get-go that this is not an informal meeting.
This impression is heightened by their ensuing chitchat about whether Viner has any firearms in the house (she does), and his demand that she not go after them when they enter the building. Wally’s later request that Winer help unlock her phone, and then his sudden act of pulling the device away when she tries to touch it, only reinforces the feeling that sunny weather and pleasant conversation Regardless, things are grim for Viner.
If it’s clear that Justin and Wally are making up a genius excuse to get Winner’s cooperation, it’s also clear that Winner is using superficial comments — most of them stemming from his concerns about his dog and cat. belong to whom she fears they will run away if not properly managed exit through the front door – to conceal the fact that she knows, or at least suspects, of this drop-by Cause
Looking closely to the letter of its source material, reality Not only by the passionate interactions of these characters, but also by the slowly developing air of menace created by the arrival of an unnamed, goatee agent in a yellow shirt and wrap-around sunglasses, whose gum-chewing and There is a mixture of hips on the hands, from which the mystery arises. Far from reassuring.
Alternating between claustrophobic close-ups and medium shots that heighten Winner’s dwarf-to-boys situations, director Sater creates an atmosphere of simmering anxiety. To the victor, the world soon begins to take on a strange quality, with everything that happens—tree branches rustling in the wind, a cat sitting in a toy truck across the street—suddenly seeming real and threatening. Is.
Justin and Wally eventually take this confrontation to an empty back room, which has no furniture and is lit by a fluorescent light. After expressing how impressed they are with her fluency in Farsi, Dari, and Pashto, the federal agents get down to business: namely, their belief that Winner has leaked classified information.
To force her to open up, they prod her on the nature of her work at the NSA, her background in the Air Force, her security clearance, her interest in future deployments, and her conduct in office. His questions reveal that he has more intelligence than he reveals, and it’s not long before the winner is coming clean, piece by piece, about his violations, which include Russia’s suspected meddling in the 2016 election. involved printing a report about interference—specifically, his hacking of voting machines—and mailing it Intercept for publication.
Justin and Wally want to know exactly what Conqueror did and why, and the answer to that latter issue is hinted at in the first few moments. reality, courtesy of Snapshot of Winner working at cubicle desk under TV broadcasting Fox News. The constant noise of fascist-minded right-wing propaganda is the unspoken (and again, openly blamed) catalyst for Viner’s crime. What is of more interest to the film, however, is Viner’s in-the-moment examination, whose nervousness is initially manifested through his large, darting eyes and frantic clapping/unclasping hands.
reality is a showcase for its headliner, who captures Winner’s friendliness, poise and terror through slowly changing body language and a voice that seems to waver under the stress of his position. In jean shorts, a white shirt with curled cuffs, and hair pulled back in a ponytail, Sweeney makes the winner look small and normal. Intermittent cutscenes in her Instagram posts — about the (questionable?) vacation she recently took, her competitive weightlifting, and her AR-15 — contribute to a portrait of the translator as a relatively normal woman. , who, like millions of Americans, were around in 2017. at his wit’s end at the incoming Commander-in-Chief, and who was naturally distraught and unnerved by the bright light of a federal inquiry.
At the same time, though, Sweeney (like the film) never elicits too much sympathy; The true motives of the victor remain at least partially opaque, so that it is possible to read him (and his crime) in a number of ways.
The tension between honesty and deception is central reality, regarding the winner’s cat-and-mouse game with Justin and Wally, and the bombshell revelation about Russian interference by the government that elicited an avalanche of denials from Trump and Fox. By confining itself to the official record, the film never develops the extra dimension that might enhance its themes.
Nevertheless, with his actors temporarily disappearing from the screen whenever they reach the edited portion of the transcript, Sater tells his story alongside views of the classified report, as well as TV news from media pundits debating the winner’s case. The clip ends with – thereby providing a final critique of our fragmented national discourse, and an unambiguous statement about the justification for doing wrong for the right reasons.
(tags to translate) television