Parents' Guide to

The Dissident

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Intense docu on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Movie PG-13 2020 119 minutes
The Dissident Poster Image

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Long and not exactly uplifting, this documentary is nevertheless absolutely essential, constantly reasserting its own investigative journalism even in the face of world powers that would crush it. Directed by Oscar winner Bryan Fogel (Icarus), The Dissident consists largely of talking-head interviews and some drone-cam establishing shots of various cities, but it benefits greatly from dynamic footage of Abdulaziz and plenty of archival footage of Khashoggi himself. The movie quickly humanizes the legendary journalist, emphasizing his warm smile and his loving relationship with Cengiz, as well as his tenacity in never stepping down from a battle.

Abdulaziz, meanwhile, is shown frequently on the move, on sidewalks or on subways, as if unwilling to stay in one place to be interviewed. (His family and friends back in Saudi Arabia have all been arrested.) His interviews give the movie a paranoid force that, again, makes it more human. The many other interviewees are largely sources for Fogel's reporting, and few of them are on-screen long enough to leave an emotional impression, but their information is still vital. Computer-generated images of the Saudi Arabian internet trolls, as well as flies and bees (representing the bad and good forces on Twitter), may seem a little extraneous, but they nonetheless get the point across clearly. Ultimately, though, The Dissident is most impressive for the same reasons that Khashoggi was impressive: courage and a quest for the truth.

Movie Details

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