Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari is detained by Iranian forces who brutally interrogate him under suspicion that he is a spy.Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari is detained by Iranian forces who brutally interrogate him under suspicion that he is a spy.Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari is detained by Iranian forces who brutally interrogate him under suspicion that he is a spy.
Stewart took some chances. Most importantly, he set the film in English instead of Persian with subtitles. While this brings a broader audience it diminishes the film's authenticity a bit. It's a calculated cost/benefit decision that I reluctantly agree with. The story is important and should reach as many people as possible. Still, he could have mixed in more Persian for a slightly better balance.
The language decision also opened the door to casting non-Persian actors, particularly the lead. Gael García Bernal played his highly nuanced character superbly but the role could have gone to one of many talented and available Persian actors. They would have added to the film's authenticity without sacrificing its artistic merit.
Once we get past these relatively minor language and ethnicity issues with the actors we find they are realistic and believable. To Stewart's (and Maziar Bahari's) credit, the Iranian officials are not the usual flat, black and white caricatures we love to hate in mainstream media; they are dynamic, regular people, crazed and ignorant to us, but "normal" in their own world. As Bahari said in an interview, even his torturer saw what he did as "a job", with benefits and overtime. This shifts the focus onto the corrupt institutions of the Iranian regime instead of mere personalities that can be summarily dismissed.
By countering the norm for demonizing all things Iran-related, Rosewater sets itself apart as a uniquely thoughtful, fascinating, important and relevant film.
- Nov 4, 2014