In 2009, an Iranian born, London-based, Canadian journalist named Maziar Bahari (played by Gael Garcia Bernal, , ) was tortured at Evin Prison in Teheran for several months. Accused of spying for the United States, his memoir was a bestseller, and his interview with had gained the attention of Jon Stewart. Stewart’s involvement here is much grander: now, he’s the writer and director of this powerful story of hope and survival.
There’s a sense here, especially in light of Bahari’s memoir title connecting him to Martin Niemoller’s quote about the Jews and Nazis, that this is a call to remember, and to act. One has to wonder if this is just the beginning of film directing for Stewart, but his first subject is certainly sympathetic, regardless of what you think about politics or the current Middle East conflict. Sure, the special features lend themselves in some ways to different arguments, but the truth is, this man was tortured for months because of his opinion and journalism.
In a world where Charlie Hebob is cartoons one day, and bloodshed the next, Rosewater asks some questions about paying attention and finding your voice, with enough brutality to make you look away occassionally. In a story of survival, there are those who make it and those who don’t, but Bahari proves to overcome by refusing to give in or give up. In some subtle (and not so subtle) ways, he survives with the help of his family, even while he’s deprived of all human interaction outside of “Rosewater” (Kim Bodnia). It’s one way he succeeds, and so does Stewart’s directorial debut, proving there’s more than meets the eye to a guy best known for satirical news. rating: borrow it