As a first time feature director, television personality Jon Stewart still has a bit to learn. As a writer, however, he has constructed a taut and thoughtful drama based on the true story of imprisoned British journalist Maziar Bahari.
Bahari (played here in an understated and dignified turn from Gael Garcia Bernal) was imprisoned in Iran in 2009 for daring to call the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a fraud, his Iranian father’s ties to the Communist party, and for leaking footage of violent out of control protests to the Western media. The film chronicles in great detail the 100 days Bahari spent in solitary confinement, only to be let out to talk to a specialist every day (a menacing Kim Bodnia) who’s goal was to psychologically torturing him into admitting to being part of a non-existent coup.
When Stewart sticks to the basic – documenting Bahari’s struggles and fears and the very ludicrousness of the situation – the film soars. The only times things get off track are when Stewart decides to use inappropriately cutsey visuals to llustrate Bahari’s global influences. I’m sure he thought they looked cool, but they definitely aren’t needed. He’s overcompensating, but seeing as this is a first feature from someone who primarily works on news magazines where such tricks are de rigueur, then it makes sense. (Andrew Parker)
Tuesday, September 9th, 12:30pm, Winter Garden Theatre