Run time: 103mins
Director: Jon Stewart
Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Kim Bodnia, Claire Foy, Dimitri Leonidas, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Synopsis: This adaptation tells the true story of Iranian Canadian journalist, Maziar Bahari, who was detained in Iran in 2009 while attempting to cover the presidential election. Maziar Bahari was held captive and brutally interrogated at Evin Prison for 118 days whilst his fiancée back in London campaigned tirelessly for his release. Bahari was usually blindfolded when being interrogated and the sole distinguishing feature of his interrogator was that he smelled of rosewater.
This superb film is the impressive directorial and screenwriting debut of US satirist Jon Stewart and is inspired by actual events in which his Comedy Central’s The Daily Show played a crucial role.
Based on The New York Times best-selling memoir Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival’ written by the journalist Maziar Bahari, this true story stars Gael García Bernal, at the head of a fine international cast.
Rosewater follows the Tehran-born Bahari, a 42-year- old broadcast journalist with Canadian citizenship living in London. In June 2009, Bahari returned to Iran to interview Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who was the prime challenger to controversial incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As Mousavi’s supporters rose up to protest Ahmadinejad’s victory declaration hours before the polls closed on election day, Bahari endured great personal risk by submitting camera footage of the unfolding street riots to the BBC. Bahari was soon arrested by Revolutionary Guard police, led by a man identifying himself only as “Rosewater,” who proceeded to torture and interrogate the journalist over the next 118 days.
In October 2009, with Bahari’s wife leading an international campaign from London to have her husband freed and Western media outlets including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart continuing to keep the story alive, the Iranian authorities released Bahari on $300,000 bail and the promise he would act as a spy for the government.
Rosewater has a direct connection to Stewart, who since taking over as host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show in 1999, has turned the nightly half-hour satirical look at newsmakers and news-coverers into not only a perennial Emmy-winning juggernaut, but also an important touchstone on the zeitgeist. Stewart and The Daily Show covered Bahari’s saga nightly and had the journalist appear on the show to talk about his ordeal when he was released from prison.
Once again Gael Garcia Bernal (Even the Rain, 2010; Babel, 2006; The Motorcycle Diaries,
2004; Amores Perros, 2000) completely mesmerises and Kim Bodnia (The Bridge television series, Love Is All You Need (2012) as Bahari’s ‘specialist’ torturer is superb.They are ably backed by strong ensemble of international actors including Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog, 2003) as Maziar Bahari’s courageous mother, Moloojoon (Winter Sleep, 2014) as Baba Akbar. This is an important, interesting and unmissable film on a serious subject but leavened with humour and razor sharp wit from Jon Stewart.
Images courtesy of The Works