Review: The Dissident (Sundance 2020)


Title: The Dissident
MPAA Rating: NR
Director: Bryan Fogel
Starring: Jamal Khashoggi
Runtime: 1 hr 59 mins

What It Is: Right on the precipice of getting married, Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappears into a meeting, never to return alive. This documentary through various interviews with those who were close to him dissects the Saudi Arabian government and why they would (and did) put the hit on the free speech activist.

What We Think: I’m gonna take on the technical stuff first, and it’s namely just this: the editing and structure lost me a little. There was tons of back and forth between different story lines they were following, which was like juggling in the brain. Then again, I could have been worn down from work or hardcore Sundance-festivaling, but nonetheless I sort of felt like I was sinking in my chair through the middle of this. It dragged on some. The editing was also a little much, a little too overdone (as much as it almost sounds like nitpicking), it was treated somewhat like a spy thriller rather than a political crime documentary. Otherwise, the subject matter is fascinating and completely worth looking at in discerning the disgusting acts and amount of authority that the Saudi Arabian government has among their people and their people’s use of social media (namely Twitter), as well as the United States’ (or rather, our current administration’s) apparent determination to cover up for the Saudi Arabian for the preserving business with them.

Our Grade: B-, Despite its shortcomings, An important documentary that I believe holds a historical and cultural importance when it comes to reporting and commentating on censorship, revolution, individuality, and corruption. This is an event that for the sake of individuality under the eye of authority, should never be swept under the rug or collect dust on the shelf.

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