Director: Peter Sattler

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Peyman Moaadi, Lane Garrison

Year: 2014

Don’t count on me if you’re looking for agreement the next time you want to critique Kristen Stewart.  And I use the term ‘critique’ lightly; most insults thrown her way don’t even come close to critical analysis, they’re more of the making fun variety.  She looks bored, she has no personality, her hair is grungy, isn’t she a lesbian, wasn’t she that girl in that vampire movie.  Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it all before, and without watching her more dramatic work anyone who hears these comments could just nod & say “sure, you’re right, she’s weird.”  But that’s ignoring an entire aspect of her career; that she’s one hell of a talented actress.  She might come off as a bit disinterested in the Hollywood glamour of the industry, she might not fit your mold of a leading lady, and you might feel uncomfortable watching her because she rocks your world view, but that has nothing to do with her & everything to do with you.  Bottom line is she’s a great actress, someone with a true gift who refuses to play the game.  Count me out if you want to knock that.

In America’s Guantanamo Bay military facility, residents aren’t called prisoners, they’re called detainees, that way their rights don’t fall under the Geneva Convention and they can be treated without due process.  A technicality perhaps, but one that aids our government in the capture & detention of suspected terrorists and terror agents.  Whether this crosses an invisible moral line is up to you.  For Army MP Private Cole, guarding these desperate men is a chance to make a difference, a chance to serve her country without having to face the horrors of Iraq or Afghanistan.  But walking the isolation cells of Gitmo isn’t exactly the honorable mission she had imagined.  And as she begins to speak to a particular detainee, she’ll find herself questioning the methods used to deny these prisoners their rights, their humanity, and their freedom.

I won’t pretend that this film is a groundbreaking artistic piece, or that it even approaches the caliber of others, like Rosewater for example, but it is a strong mouthpiece for a sensitive issue, and that garners it some credit.  Somewhere in the middle of this controversy lies the answer, I’d bet, but there are definitely two sides to this topic; these terrorists deserve every inhumane treatment and these men are people first, which should afford them basic rights.  It might matter which side you lean to as it pertains to your enjoyment of this film, because there is a definite bias here, but the movie at least shows Guantanamo from many angles and should allow you to form your own opinion.  Now, back to Kristen Stewart, who does another solid job here in Camp X-Ray.  The girl might be a bit angsty, but that characteristic fits in well here, and her recent filmography keeps building on itself: On the Road, Still Alice, Equals, Certain Women, Cafe Society, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.  Don’t dismiss her as Bella, don’t discredit this film for taking a humanistic approach, or you’ll miss out on a good-if-not-great feature that went under-the-radar but probably shouldn’t have.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆



By ochippie

Writer, Critic, Dad Columbus, Ohio, USA Denver Broncos, St. Louis Cardinals Colorado Avalanche, Duke Blue Devils