Release Date: Friday November 14, 2014
Starring: Gael García Bernal
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Rating: Rated R for for language and violent content
There are some movies that capture a person’s attention and hold it regardless of the viewer’s interest in the subject matter. “Rosewater” is not one of those movies.
Written and directed by “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart, “Rosewater” tells the story of a journalist who is wrongly accused of being a western spy. The journalist, Iranian-Canadian Maziar Bahari, is imprisoned and interrogated for 118 days in Evin prison in Iran.
As a student of Middle Eastern culture, this was a story that naturally had my interest. Because of that, I was able to forgive some pacing problems that would cause the story to drag for people who are not inherently interested in an exploration of corruption within the Iranian government.
The movie also suffered slightly from stylistic and tonal inconsistencies. There are some scenes at the beginning of the movie, specifically a “shaky-cam” scene, where it seems like Stewart is trying too hard. The rest of the movie is directed in a more straight-forward manner and the more stylized scenes feel disjointed. There are also some attempts at humor that lighten the mood but undermine any attempt to build a sense of urgency.
Despite these flaws, this is a solid telling of a relevant story. Stewart unfolds the story with patience and care. It is evident that this is a personal project for Stewart. Bahari was accused partly because of a satirical interview conducted on “The Daily Show” and it is easy to imagine that Stewart was compelled to tell this story due to feeling, in some way, responsible for the events that followed that interview. Stewart’s outrage towards the actions of the definitely shines through and become the focal point of the film.
Overall, this was a flawed but solid debut for Stewart as a filmmaker, and I’m curious what other stories he will want to tell. On my “It’s an Ordinary Blog” movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again, I give “Rosewater” a 3.3498493704 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of: “Hmmmm”.