Dissident - B+
Rated PG-13, 119 minutes
The fascinating, insightful new documentary from Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Bryan Fogel ("Icarus") probes the brutal murder of a renowned international columnist who was critical of many of the Saudi Arabian government's policies.
When Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappears in Istanbul in October 2018, his friends and family, including video blogger and activist Omar Abdulaziz, piece together the clues to a murder and expose a cover up led by the Saudi government to control international dissent.
Thrilling and well-pieced together by Fogel, "Dissident" examines Khashoggi's disappearance and death with an impressive collection of footage and interviews with Khashoggi's friends, colleagues and family, ranging from his fiance Hatice Cengiz to former CIA director John Brennan, all of whom try to shed light into the situation. As well, Fogel also spends time with Abdulaziz and his story, and how his connection to Khashoggi have been far reaching, adversely affecting his own circle of family and friends. Some of it is thought-provoking, some of it heartbreaking, and at other times, infuriating, but then all of those things could easily describe Khashoggi's murder.
Possibly unsurprising is U.S. President Donald Trump's ties to the Saudi government and his relationship with Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed Bin Salman, and implies that Trump is part of an international cover up, even after Saudi Arabia accepted responsibility for the murder, though the trial and its subsequent handling has been severely criticized by human rights groups.
Fogel is a skilled documentarian, and his thought-provoking look at Khashoggi's murder is a worthwhile one, though much like his Oscar-winning 2017 documentary "Icarus," he lets "The Dissident" become a little too redundant, and goes on about 15-20 minutes longer than necessary. Still, "The Dissident" an astute, provocative portrait of that is one of the best documentaries of the year.