More Film News from Variety

August 28, 2014 7:21 AM

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More Film News from Variety

The punishing ordeal of Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari — imprisoned for 118 days on charges of espionage — is brought to the screen with impressive tact and intelligence by writer-director Jon Stewart in “Rosewater,” an alternately somber and darkly funny drama that may occupy the same geographic terrain as “Argo” (to which it will inevitably be compared), but in most other respects could hardly be more different. Largely a two-hander between Bahari (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) and the interrogator who puts him through a gauntlet of soul-crushing mindgames, Stewart’s confident, superbly acted debut feature works as both a stirring account of human endurance and a topical reminder of the risks faced by journalists in pursuit of the truth, minus the caper antics and flag waving of Ben Affleck’s populist Oscar winner. Strong reviews and smart, targeted marketing should help this Nov. 7 Open Road release find its niche with politically savvy adult moviegoers, and perhaps a dark-horse position in the awards-season derby.

Stewart (whose prior screen credits consist of supporting roles in a string of forgettable ’90s comedies) may seem like a left-field choice to adapt Bahari’s 2011 memoir, “Then They Came for Me.” But in one of the story’s several stranger-than-fiction twists, an appearance by Bahari on “The Daily Sh...

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