Based of a true story about a journalist who gets detained and brutally interrogated in prison for 118 days. The journalist Maziar Bahari was blindfolded and interrogated for 4 months in Evin prison in Iran, while the only distinguishable feature about his captor is the distinct smell of rosewater. An interview and sketch that Maziar did with a journalist on The Daily Show was used as evidence that Maziar was a spy and in communication with the American government and the CIA.Written by
Jason Jones was cast to play himself because of an interview on The Daily Show (1996) that partially led to Maziar Bahari's imprisonment. During Bahari's interrogation, he was shown the interview between himself and Jones that the Iranian government claimed was proof that Bahari was a spy. Bahari later stated the interrogators were fabricating charges to the Iranian government and were aware of Jones' satirical and risky approach. See more »
Charles "CK" Redlinger is listed as a "Secruity Supervisor." [sic]
Additionally there are two listings for "Saftey" [sic] personnel. See more »
When I was nine my sister took me to the Shrine of Masumeh. It was beautiful. I will never forget the smell. A mix of sweat and rosewater they showered down on the faithful. I used to think only the most pious carried that scent.
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Comedian and television host Jon Stewart took a leave of absence from his television work to make this powerful political drama, Rosewater, a film that became a small part of his life after filming a faux-news segment on his Daily Show gig. That interview became evidence to try and convict that guest, Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-born journalist. (In 2009, Bahari was arrested in Iran while covering a story for Newsweek and falsely accused of being a spy.) Stewart took a personal interest in his story due to his subsequent involvement with this reporter.
Like the prisoners in Kiss of the Spider Woman, Bahari retreats into a fantasy world in order to keep his sanity over the many long months during this ordeal. His scenes in solitary confinement serve in sharp contrast with memories of his past life, as one is immediately drawn into his plight. Rosewater vividly chronicles this injustice as it focuses on his imprisonment and torture.
Bahari (Gael García Bernal) is arrested soon after the movie opens, while his mother, Moloojoon (Shohreh Aghdashloo), helplessly looks on. The film takes its time with its exposition of the political ramifications of an election and the country's divide among its party leaders and supporters. The protests lead to the harrowing sequences of brutal interrogation between Bahari and his captor, Javadi (Kim Bodnia) that are the majority of the film's content. (Bahari spends most of these scenes blindfolded and his only connection with his interrogator is the heavy scent of rosewater wore by his adversary, hence the title.)
First time writer / director Stewart skillfully builds the tension and frustration faced by this prisoner and wisely allows the two actors to play off each other in subtle and overt ways. Sometimes the atmospheric photography is self-conscious, with too much hand-held camera-work overused in order to try to capture the frenzied state of revolution; other times, he keeps a keen visual eye as the events unfold, as when walking the streets of Iran and flooding its windows with surreal images of Bahari's family amid the social unrest.
Bernal is very effective as Bahari. One can sense the fear and inner strength within this character by the physical choices that the actor makes, from his trembling voice to his stoic posturing. The role might be written as too saintly and heroic, but Bernal downplays that aspect beautifully. Especially touching is Bernal's inspired dance against oppression set to a Leonard Cohen song. His is a strong and memorable portrayal of a man who has lost freedom but not his sense of hope. The same can be adversely said of the thankless role of the evil interrogator. As his opponent, Bodnia is a commanding force, both as actor and written character. The film succeed primarily due to their spirited performances.
The political debating between the two men plays out like a point/ counterpoint segment as each tries to gain the psychological advantage of the other. Although the moviegoer may already know the outcome of the film, the escalating dangers between captor and captive make for predictable but still riveting viewing.
The film does become slightly preachy and self-righteous as its point-of-view is strictly on the side of its protagonist. But the impact of an innocent man wronged by a tyrannical regime resonates with understated power. Rosewater is an important film that documents the perils of journalism in a crazed world where politics and religion frequently undermine rational thinking, all at the cost of one's man's precious freedom. GRADE: B
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