Rosewater Screen 11 articles



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  • Blame it on the efficacy of black humour, a staple of Stewart’s repertoire, but the psychological perversities endured by Bahari in captivity which his memoir more vulnerably exposed (e.g., his desire to be beaten for the sake of human contact) are elided in favour of the tale’s more absurdist elements.

  • The numerous scenes of Bahari having hallucinatory conversations with his dead father and sister smack of clumsy dramatization of the journalist's internal debate, a result of Stewart's lack of greater facility with actors or the camera. Furthermore, the joyous ending only makes slight consideration for the man seen entering the torturer's cell after Bahari, a man who won't enjoy the relative safety of being a well-known journalist with international attention.

  • Stewart deserves credit for trying to resist the inherent triumph-of-the-human-spirit proposition that haunts all movies like Rosewater, but the struggle nevertheless ends in a draw. As much seems obvious in a wincingly trailer-ready scene of Bahari gleefully waltzing to Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love" in his cell, the music suddenly snuffed out when Stewart smash-cuts to the video monitor silently cataloguing the detainee's every twirl.

  • The whole imbroglio isn’t laid out or examined in any particularly meaningful way, and, in fact, it could be argued that Rosewater’s offhand treatment of Bahari’s breakdown—which is positioned as an absurd response to an absurd situation—negates the movie’s big talking points.Could be is the operative phrase there, because said talking points—about repressive governments and the need to protect journalists—aren’t all that cogent to begin with.

  • Stewart and cinematographer Bobby Bukowski favor a simple, direct, pseudo-verite shooting style (think of a less jittery Paul Greengrass) that gives these early scenes a street-level immediacy, enhanced by bits of real news footage (including a televised debate in which Ahmadinejad makes outrageous claims against Mousavi’s wife) and vivid location work in Jordan, which doubles convincingly for Tehran.

  • "Rosewater" is about a collision of ideas, not only of East and West, or even liberal democracy and theocracy, but a divide permanent and probably unresolvable in the conflict between information and security. It's not enough to draw blood, says the interrogator's Stalinist boss. "You must take away his hope." This is a bleak film, in many ways, marked by sorrow and rage. It also adds another impressive layer to the achievements of Jon Stewart.

  • Often on fire behind his Daily Show desk, Jon Stewart turns out to be a merely okay director, judging from this sincere yet serviceable political drama. It's the smallest of disappointments: Why is this gonzo figurehead paying it safe? ...Give him another movie or two. He's made a promising start, with blackly comic greatness in his grasp.

  • Once Maziar is in prison, and the world and its distractions fall away (and Mr. Bernal’s over-bright, over-deployed smile dims), so do any qualms about the star. Whatever the reason Mr. Bernal was hired, whether it was a question of getting the movie financed or simply a matter of directorial taste, his intensely sympathetic screen presence suddenly makes sense.

  • Mostly, the shifts in tone are muted. Whenever Stewart, who wrote the screenplay, cracks a joke, the mood of solemnity is shattered, and you’re grateful for the break. The levity feels somehow natural — not to Stewart per se, but to the existential absurdity of the situation.

  • Maziar’s tense, drawn expression as well as his absurd words made it clear that [his confession about being a spy] was a coerced statement, but what, I wondered, could have brought him to this point? The answer to that is provided in “Rosewater,” the gripping, intelligent directorial debut of TV personality Jon Stewart, who also wrote the screenplay, based on Bahari’s post-prison memoir, “Then They Came For Me.”

  • Despite some first-timer cosmetic missteps and a tone which sometimes strays into an All The Feels-type earnestness, Stewart’s film is impressive for a number of reasons, chiefly that as outgoing host of political satire mainstay The Daily Show, we discover he wasn’t merely ensconced as a conduit for liberal wisecracks, but there’s actually some hard political conviction behind the snark.

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