Cable news is composed mostly of pundits blowing hot air rather than actual journalists. Maziar Bahari is an Iranian born journalist who was arrested in 2009, after the Iranian presidential elections because he published footage of a protest where civilians were killed. He was arrested and accused of being a spy. His interrogators used an interview he gave to the Daily Show’s Jason Jones where Jones made a joke about being an American spy as evidence. Jon Stewart felt guilty about the incident and decided to adapt Bahari’s book about his experience into a film, Rosewater. Jon Stewart is a better director than actor, though he’s still a better writer and comedian (the Daily Show correspondents may be comedians, but they often so some very good investigative reporting). It’s a good first effort though.
This film is worth seeing, but it will take some effort for people to see due to a limited release. People in the Greater Dayton area have two chances a day (at least until November 26th) to see it at the Fairfield 20. It is also playing at the Mariemont and Esquire theaters near Cincinnati. It is worth the effort.
There are a few things that could have been improved in the film. The violence Bahari witnesses as well as his interrogation scenes could have used a little tighter editing to make them more intense. He was in a dangerous situation where his life was threatened (as well as the lives of the protestors against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad). There should have been a stronger sense of peril. There is also the symbol of the Rosewater worn by Bahari’s interrogator used in the introduction of the film. It should be more significant during the interrogation scenes, but it just isn’t acknowledged enough, if at all.
The performances are very good in the film. Gael Garcia Bernal does well convey Bahari’s apprehension about the dangerous situation as well as his desire to show the world the truth. Kim Bodnia gives and extraordinary performance in showing “Rosewater’s” desperation to get a confession out of Bahari (he’s not looking for the truth, but an answer the government can use as propaganda. Dimitri Leonidas is also terrific as new friend of Bahari who introduces him to the underground movement in Iran.
As stated before, this film is worth the extra effort it takes to see it in the theater. People who miss the opportunity to see it during the Thanksgiving craziness, will do well to rent it from Redbox or On Demand when it is released on DVD. It may even be a good addition to a DVD collection (blu ray if Stewart and Bahari do an audio commentary).