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Review: Rosewater

Rosewater
11.14.2014
100%
7 10

ROSEWATER was originally reviewed as part of our TIFF 2014 coverage.

PLOT: The true story of Iranian journalist Maziar Bahri (Gael Garcia Bernal) who, while covering the 2009 presidential election in Iran, was imprisoned for five months, with the government accusing him of being an American spy

REVIEW: It's fitting that Jon Stewart's directorial debut is the Maziar Bahri story. In 2009, in the midst of his assignment in Iran, Bahri was interviewed by “Daily Show” correspondent Jason Jones in a tongue-in-cheek segment. Horribly, when the authorities in Tehran got a hold of the footage, the comedy of the segment eluded them and they actually took it as evidence saying it proved Bahri was an American spy, allowing them to keep him imprisoned for months where he was brutally interrogated and forced to make a bogus confession for propaganda reasons.

While this no doubt sounds like a grim story, Stewart keeps the movie relatively upbeat, even during Bahri's darkest days, with him being brutalized by a sadistic interrogator (Kim Bodnia) whose unmistakable “Rosewater” scent gives the film its title. Bernal, while not Iranian, is terrific as Bahri, conveying his intelligence and good humor, which was a quality that no doubt saved his life. His mental sparring with Bodnia, whose character proves to be absolutely banal in his slavish devotion to the Iranian government party line, is sharply written and often funny. An early scene, Bodnia discovers Bahri's DVD collection, and calls THE SOPRANOS “porno” got a big laugh out of the audience, as did Bernal's sly baiting of him in the second half.

ROSEWATER is an especially enlightening film in how it shines a light on the people of Iran themselves, challenging the Western prejudice that it's a country of zealots. The Iran depicted here is very different, with him conveying that there's a majority of people there who want freedom, but can't get it due to the absolute corruption and zealotry of the people in power. Dimitri Leonidas, as the street-wise cabbie Bernal hires to escort him around the city is especially moving in his willingness to challenge authority with humor, attitude, and deeds even if it means sacrificing his freedom or his life. The infamous “Daily Show” interview itself is recreated with Jones playing himself, with this bit an interesting insight into how much the staff of that show sticks their necks out when covering a story, without coming off as too self-aggrandizing.

For a first film, ROSEWATER is pretty accomplished, although certain choices don't entirely work, with scenes of Bahri communicating with the spirit of his dead father while imprisoned feeling a little manufactured. Another scene which tries to convey how quickly an idea can spread on Twitter with hash tags and updates animated on-screen also feels a little on-the-nose, or too deliberate in the goal to give this an upbeat, inspiring feel. The story itself is solid enough that it doesn't need to be spoon-fed to the audience.

While not a jaw-dropping debut, ROSEWATER is nonetheless a very solid first film for Jon Stewart, who will no doubt make many more politically charged features in the years to come. He's already a very solid director, and it may very well be that within the next film or two, he'll deliver something extraordinary.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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+0
9:01AM on 11/14/2014

Spot on Review

Saw it last night = Good 1st attempt by Mr Stewart. Solid acting and a good story forms the basis of this well done little movie. Can't wait to see what Stewart tackles next.
Saw it last night = Good 1st attempt by Mr Stewart. Solid acting and a good story forms the basis of this well done little movie. Can't wait to see what Stewart tackles next.
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6:47AM on 11/14/2014

Saw it last night

Good debut by Stewert and Bernal maybe the Dark Horse for a nomination. He was very good with the drama and comedy. There were some really funny parts do it.
Good debut by Stewert and Bernal maybe the Dark Horse for a nomination. He was very good with the drama and comedy. There were some really funny parts do it.
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2:25AM on 11/14/2014
This won`t be on Fox news must see movie list,me bets."liberal propaganda" Hannity says as he sacrifices another Mexican on the altar of O`Reilly.
This won`t be on Fox news must see movie list,me bets."liberal propaganda" Hannity says as he sacrifices another Mexican on the altar of O`Reilly.
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9:53AM on 11/14/2014
Why would this be liberal propaganda? There is literally nothing there to suggest why anyone would think this. Also, why would Hannity sacrifice a Mexican? People on Fox News and the right have zero problems with Mexicans in fact there are Republican Mexicans as well as Democrats. I think for some absurd and delusional reason you believe being against illegal immigration is racist, while in reality it has nothing at all to do with race. This is one of the most uninformed, uneducated
Why would this be liberal propaganda? There is literally nothing there to suggest why anyone would think this. Also, why would Hannity sacrifice a Mexican? People on Fox News and the right have zero problems with Mexicans in fact there are Republican Mexicans as well as Democrats. I think for some absurd and delusional reason you believe being against illegal immigration is racist, while in reality it has nothing at all to do with race. This is one of the most uninformed, uneducated statements I have ever had the displeasure of reading.
+0
1:26AM on 11/14/2014
Can't wait to check it out. Stewart and Colbert host, in my opinion, two of the most revealing, well-researched, and downright hilarious shows on television. I honestly don't know if I can see the Daily Show being hosted by John Stewart too much longer...he's been hosting for 15 years, and as sad it is to say, I wouldn't be surprised if he moved on in the next five years. But, if he takes summers off to make movies like this and lets a potential heir/guest host fill in so he can find a
Can't wait to check it out. Stewart and Colbert host, in my opinion, two of the most revealing, well-researched, and downright hilarious shows on television. I honestly don't know if I can see the Daily Show being hosted by John Stewart too much longer...he's been hosting for 15 years, and as sad it is to say, I wouldn't be surprised if he moved on in the next five years. But, if he takes summers off to make movies like this and lets a potential heir/guest host fill in so he can find a replacement for his impending departure....I think we'd all win. I'm sure this movie took years to develop so it would be crazy for him to make a movie every summer, but his penultimate summer? I could see it.
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1:26AM on 11/14/2014
Or, you know, they could just give the show to John Oliver.
Or, you know, they could just give the show to John Oliver.
9:31PM on 11/13/2014
Damn Islamic savages.
Damn Islamic savages.
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11:59AM on 09/12/2014
This was a really good movie. The 7/10 seems appropriate, although I argue against the writer's critique about the Twitter hashtags. I thought it served a really great purpose of showing how fast and effective the news stories spread. Considering the age we live in when the majority of information is consumed online, it's hard to translate that into an effective visual within a movie. No one really wants to see a scrolling screen of Twitter posts for 2 hours. I thought it served a relevant
This was a really good movie. The 7/10 seems appropriate, although I argue against the writer's critique about the Twitter hashtags. I thought it served a really great purpose of showing how fast and effective the news stories spread. Considering the age we live in when the majority of information is consumed online, it's hard to translate that into an effective visual within a movie. No one really wants to see a scrolling screen of Twitter posts for 2 hours. I thought it served a relevant purpose and visually it helped convey what was happening. It's something that's been done before in other movies, but it's an effective tool to convey the message. And there's really no other way to do it. but considering this is a story about a journalist and the ensuing story that was tracked by the media, showing the Twitter updates was relevant to the story, IMO.
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10:31PM on 09/11/2014
I'm looking forward to this one, and glad to hear you liked it. However, I'm not sure Stewart has expressed a lot of interest in doing more directing, at least not that I've heard. And of so, I wonder if they would be more political films,or if he'd try a comedy. Maybe something combining both would be a good fit, something along the lines of In the Loop.
I'm looking forward to this one, and glad to hear you liked it. However, I'm not sure Stewart has expressed a lot of interest in doing more directing, at least not that I've heard. And of so, I wonder if they would be more political films,or if he'd try a comedy. Maybe something combining both would be a good fit, something along the lines of In the Loop.
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