starring Gael García Bernal, Kim Bodnia, Haluk Bilginer, Shoreh Aghdashloo
screenplay by Jon Stewart, based on the book Then They Came for Me by Maziar Bahari
directed by Jon Stewart
by Walter Chaw Jon Stewart's hyphenate debut Rosewater, based on briefly-imprisoned Iranian-born Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari's memoir Then They Came For Me, is painfully earnest, suffering from the first-timer disease of being both unimaginatively-shot and laboriously About Something. It's a message movie, and there's no crime in that, but it's laid out so carefully that any sense of tension--or drama, really--is sapped out of it, simplifying its message to the point of inconsequence and, eventually, making the picture vulnerable to mockery. Rosewater is one of those movies that makes you cringe because although you believe in its politics, it isn't helping the cause. Consider the moment where one of Bahari's jailers cracks wise about Abu Ghraib because America, see, is just as bad as Iran, maybe in many ways: I was distracted by the moist sound of 1,200 eyes rolling at the same time. It also doesn't help that this issue film casts Mexican actor Gael García Bernal as Iranian-Canadian Bahari. This "best actor for the role" nonsense has to have a limit, lest Daniel Day-Lewis one day play Martin Luther King; this Christmas, Leonardo DiCaprio is Buddha. Chill out, we're post-racial, brah! Rosewater is the kind of shit that gives liberals a bad name, and for as much as I like and often admire "The Daily Show", it's very much the movie the host of "The Daily Show" would make.