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ROSEWATER (review)

Written and Directed by Jon Stewart
Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Kim Bodnia

Maziar Bahari: I am forgotten.

Political funny man, Jon Stewart, has made a movie that is both political and, oddly enough, at times even funny. ROSEWATER tells the true account of Iranian-Canadian journalist, Maziar Bahari, and his incarceration and torture for 118 days in an Iranian prison. The subject matter may seem a bit bleak for Stewart to take on as his first film, and it is. Still, Stewart does his best to infuse the film with enough hope to make it more uplifting than difficult; and while I commend him for the admirable job he has done, I question whether he was the right man for the job. In 2009, Bahari (played here by Mexican actor, Gael Garcia Bernal) returned home to cover the Iran elections for Newsweek. While there, he shot, and subsequently aired footage of the riots that followed the elections themselves. The Iranian people were livid over the results, insisting they were falsified, taking to the streets in mass hordes to make their voices known. When he showed how the Iranian government was actually firing back at the protestors, he was arrested for essentially reporting the actual news. One of the more peculiar elements that led the authorities to consider Bahari as a spy was an interview he did for Stewart’s own “The Daily Show”. This is in part one of the reasons Stewart chose to take this project on. Gael-Garcia-Bernal-Rosewater ROSEWATER is a solid first film, without question. Stewart does show some signs of uncertainty as a director here and there but that’s expected. What makes me question whether a different director would have better served this story is how tame the film is. Not that I wanted to see more torture but it felt at times that Stewart was holding back, perhaps not to come off as leaning as left as one would expect him to. Yes, Mahari’s imprisonment was absurd but it was still very real and at times, Stewart’s somewhat lighter tone, undermines this. His voice as a director and as a writer comes through but it just isn’t always as serious as the story needs it to be. 3.5 sheep

For more on ROSEWATER, check out our interview with Jon Stewart himself!

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