Jon Stewart, it seems over night, has become an accomplished director. True, Rosewater is only his first film, but it's certainly good enough to make that claim.
Rosewater is the true story of Maziar Bahari... a guy who went on The Daily Show and made a couple jokes with one of their journalists only to later find himself detained by the Iranian government and interrogated for 118 days.
The relevancy of this story is potent. We live in a world that is more connected than it has ever been before. Yet there are still people out there who have so little education... have never been allowed to experience that connection in a real way... who easily... and it seems willingly... get it confused in the name of some ridiculous cause or another. What Rosewater says first and foremost is: if you are an educated and free man, you have the advantage... even when you are physically being held prisoner. If you know the truth and can learn to understand your enemy's version of the truth there is a way out.
I walked into Rosewater with the expectation that I would be watching a comedian try to make an overly serious prisoner film. But I underestimated Jon Stewart... something I have never done in the past, and don't plan on doing again. He knows his strengths (of which there are many) and takes advantage of them. Rosewater is not really a drama as the trailer seems to claim. It actually gets really funny. And by the end I was just impressed that a movie like this could exist at all. It breaks all genre tropes. And it's a true story. It's kind of amazing to see something with such a positive message coming out of such a ludicrous reality.
While Gael García Bernal is most definitely not Iranian... or Canadian for that matter... he is just too good an actor to ignore. And I know it won't bother most people anyway, but I thought it worth noting. Bernal has been putting out amazing performances one after another for the last fifteen years, and I'm beginning to wonder if the Academy will ever actually recognize his talents. I'd at least call for him to get a nomination this year... though Best Actor is beginning to look more and more like a very crowded category.
Gotta say, Jon Stewart impressed me with his first directorial attempt. And Rosewater is gonna resonate with me for a good long while.