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By Kate Smith
17th February 2015

If you liked ‘Argo’, ‘Rosewater’ might appeal to you.

Set during the "democratic" elections of 2009 in Iran, ‘Rosewater’ tells the story of Maziar Bahari (Gael García Bernal), an Iranian-Canadian journalist who is imprisoned for sending footage of the post-election riots to the BBC. Suspected of being a spy, Bahari is kept in solitary confinement and tortured for 118 days, until a campaign boosted by social media pressures the Iranian government for his release.

Based on Bahari’s book ‘Then They Came for Me’, ‘Rosewater’ begins with Bahari’s hope for real change in his homeland, Iran. He interviews people on the street, those who consider themselves "educated" because they have access to Western TV. It quickly devolves into confusion, fear, and hopelessness, before clawing its way back to hope.


This film raises your hopes, then dashes them, reflecting Bahari’s experiences in prison. It’s a turbulent film, with lots of smash cuts, flashbacks and super-short scenes demonstrating the progression of time. It’s not a comfortable film to watch; the editing is quite deliberate in that respect. If torture (mostly psychological, not so much physical) is a trigger for you, don’t watch this film. In addition, you have to pay attention; this film assumes a lot, and if you’re not up to date with the political environment in which the film is set, you might be left confused.

It’s not a comfortable film to watch.

Acting is decent. Not spectacular, but to be fair, playing Bahari would not have been easy. Neither would have been playing his torturer, but Kim Bodnia does his best.

The biggest problem about this film is that it should be emotionally taxing; it should leave you with something to consider. But it doesn’t. It’s just taxing, and you leave wondering where the filmmakers went wrong. They set out to tell a story of high emotion, but just never quite get there. It ends with a statement about the many journalists around the world who have been imprisoned for "bearing witness", and this one statement is more of an emotional blow than most of the film.

It’s not a bad film, but I don’t recommend you spend your hard-earned cash to see it at the cinema. Wait until it's on TV.

RELEASE DATE: 19/02/2015
RUN TIME: 1h 43m
CAST: Gael García Bernal
Kim Bodnia
Jon Stewart
Scott Rudin
SCORE: Howard Shore
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