Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Kim Bodnia, Dimitri Leonidas, Haluk Biligner, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Based on the Book “Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival” by: Maziar Bahari
Written for the screen and directed by: Jon Stewart
Metacritic Score: 66
IMDb Score: 6.7
Rated R for language including some crude references, and violent content
Passion projects for entertainers can be an interesting thing to witness. Whether it’s musicians who yearn to act (Andre Benjamin), actors who want to be musicians (Scarlett Johannson) or whatever other types of entertainers do different things, it results in a few different ways. You have some that unlock even more creative potential, some that simply just want to switch career paths and just some that leads to some disastrous “stay on the side of your road” results. Could this be a start for Jon Stewart as a director?
Maziar Bahari (Bernal) is a journalist covering the Iranian elections in 2009, where he reports on both sides of the election. Soon after, Bahari becomes witness to violent protests and the videos end up on the web for the world to see. Days later, he’s imprisoned and interrogated by the Iranian government for being a spy to the Western world. This film chronicles the 120 days he spent in solitary confinement and captivity until his release.
As a story, Rosewater is a fascinating story that could have been an interesting movie. As a movie, it’s a boring, mis-directed mess that seems to have a hard time trying to find a theme, process or anything to ground itself with. This movie reminded me, weirdly, of Don Jon, where the director uses unnecessary camera techniques and effects for no reason other than to use them.
For such a topic as wrongful incarceration and political imprisonment, the movie doesn’t seem to have a point other than to say “Hey, isn’t this fucked up?”. This could work for a short documentary or a small part of a bigger movie, but for a 100 minute film the scope is so small it grasps for things to put on screen.
You can literally feel Stewart grasping for something to shoot in terms of shooting as artsy or shocking. There are shots in this film that are just confusing, such as special effects involving wall screens and the use of egregious special effects that are really out of place.
This also suffers in Bernal’s performance, as he comes off as bland, boring and fairly one dimensional. Get ready to watch Bernal in three different emotions: blindfolded confusion, quiet rage and quiet despondence. For an actor that is as great as Bernal to come off as cardboard, it’s really a testament to the lack of direction this film has.
It’s tough to find some good in this movie, but it’s not a bad movie per say. It’s just a bland movie about a subject that should have more to say or be broader in scope than it is. It’s just a yawn inducing, questionably shot movie that needed more in the way of shock value or thematic elements.
The problems with the film fall squarely on Stewart, who will need serious improvement if he plans to do a second film in the near future.
1/5 – Stewart’s direction and writing makes an interesting topic seem lifeless.
The Wiz Says #9