It’s long been accepted than Jon Stewart can do no wrong. Whatever you think of his views of mosh-pitting or Israel (please dear God, save those comments), he’s one of those comedians who consistently performs with integrity. Stewart stole a car? Committed a murder? It’s cool, I’m sure he had a totally legit reason to do it.
So I tried to keep as open a mind as possible when I saw the trailer for Rosewater, Jon Stewart’s directorial debut. Rosewater tells the story of Maziar Bahari (here played by Gael Garcia Bernal), a British-based journalist sent to Iran to cover the 2009 Iranian election. Bahari, who left behind his pregnant fiancé, was subsequently captured and tortured for 118 days. During the interrogation, Bahari’s torturers actually used real footage from Bahari’s appearance on The Daily Show against him.
But while Bahari’s appearance on the show must’ve influenced Jon Stewart’s direction, none of that footage appears in the trailer, pointing (potentially) to the movie’s strength. More often that not, movies about torture become nothing more than one-dimensional glances at sadism. The external political landscape is simplified/ignored in favor of voyeuristic looks at pain (Sorry, but I’m looking at you, Zero Dark Thirty). In Stewart’s trailer, the outside world appears with a seeming level of intellectual complexity that movies like Sin City 2 juuuuust can’t seem to achieve.
Rosewater opens in theaters November 7th. Try and look past the “live,” “laugh,” and “feel hope” comments. This is a movie about torture – we gotta have at least one Candy heart quote.