‘Enemies of the State’ Review: Seeking Proof Shrouded in Shadows
Was Matt DeHart an Air National Guard veteran who, having spent time in hacktivist circles, stumbled on information so explosive that the F.B.I. had him physically tortured during an interrogation process? (That’s what he claimed when he fled to Canada after 2013.) Or was he a fugitive from justifiable charges of producing and transporting child pornography, a case he suggested had been concocted?
Journalists who have covered the DeHart saga — and the summary above is only the tip of the iceberg — have tended to note when corroboration becomes impossible. The remarkable thing about “Enemies of the State,” a documentary directed by Sonia Kennebeck and executive produced by Errol Morris, no stranger to epistemological mysteries — is that it comes close to offering decisive yes and no answers, with evidence to back them up.
It becomes a documentary about re-evaluating biases, a process that may well implicate the filmmakers. As Tor Ekeland, a lawyer who represented DeHart, says in the movie, “The only way to make the facts in this case make sense is to entertain some kind of wild conspiracy theory.” Kennebeck must have recognized the danger of doing just that. Matt’s parents, Paul and Leann, featured extensively, appear to have reached a point where no amount of paranoia would be unjustified, yet they seem utterly convinced of themselves. Even the third parties interviewed — the National Post journalist Adrian Humphreys, the McGill professor Gabriella Coleman — wind up confronting blind spots.
Kennebeck weaves uncertainty into the formal design, staging re-enactments mingled with original audio, for instance. The movie is a spoiler deathtrap, but the questions it raises are fascinating.
Enemies of the State
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 43 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.
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