drama "reality": Sydney Sweeney as a whistleblower

“Euphoria” star Sydney Sweeney plays whistleblower Reality Winner. A political film that probably comes out before the upcoming US presidential elections, not coincidentally.

It seems like a banal Saturday afternoon in the state of Georgia, USA – but Reality Leigh Winner’s life changes forever. The translator and US Air Force veteran commissioned by the American secret service NSA is said to have passed on information about Russian interference in the 2016 US elections to journalists. In June 2017, two FBI agents appeared at her house.

The drama “Reality” tells of the then 25-year-old whistleblower who was sentenced to several years in prison in 2018. Critics of then-US President Donald Trump say she became a target of the Trump administration for helping to uncover inconsistencies in the presidential election. It’s probably no coincidence that “Reality” comes out in the same year as another US election.

FBI interrogation transcripts

The American Sydney Sweeney, who became known with the hyped series “Euphoria”, is convincing in the leading role of the film. Director Tina Satter bases her script on real FBI interrogation protocols. She transfers the protocol one-to-one into the script. The film describes the moment when everything changes for the young woman.

You see a rather shy, CrossFit-loving woman and two relatively clumsy agents (played by Josh Hamilton and Marchánt Davis). Sweeney can fully exploit her acting talent in this chamber play.

The situation is oppressive. Winner repeats several times that she wants to cooperate, and the agents constantly emphasize that they have a search warrant. While they chat with Winner, others search her house.

Some people also accused those responsible for the website “The Intercept,” which published the secret data, of having to use Reality Winner as a scapegoat. The editorial team failed to protect the identity of its source.

Occasionally you get an insight into reality with the 25-year-old’s Instagram posts. Whenever redaction occurs in the logs, the image crashes or the characters disappear. An interesting way to represent possible censorship.

“Reality” premiered at the Berlinale in 2023; Satter had previously staged the FBI interrogation as a play entitled “Is This a Room”.

Reality, USA 2023, 83 min., by Tina Satter, with Sydney Sweeney, Josh Hamilton, Marchánt Davis