Starring: Gael García Bernal, Kim Bodnia, Dimitri Leonidas



Director: Jon Stewart

Rating: 4/5

When you think about Jon Stewart a career in movies is not necessarily the first thing that springs to mind. However, Stewart is set to make his feature film directorial debut this week with Rosewater.

Stewart is one of a handful of stars who are moving from working in front of the camera to sitting behind it, and it looks to have been a very successful transition for the funny man.

Rosewater follows the Tehran-born Maziar 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 Moussavi'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.

Rosewater is a movie that has been playing well over recent months and was one of this month's movies that I was looking forward to the movie... I have to say, it doesn't disappoint and is an impressive debut from Stewart.

The fact that Rosewater is based on a true story is one of the things that makes this movie so powerful. But Stewart has also delivered a gripping film that is as intelligent as it is funny - he has struck the balance between these two elements perfectly.

As well as proving establishing himself as a director with Rosewater, Stewart has also shown off his writing still once again - the movie delivers an important message of the importance of political freedom and freedom of speech as well as being an intimate character driven drama.

Gael Garcia Bernal takes on the central role of Bahari in the film, and he gives a devastatingly good performance. I have been a fan of Bernal for some time and yet I feel that he is a rather underrated actor, which is a major shame.

However, Rosewater is a film that really shows him off as he and Stewart develop a character that has an unshakable and inspiring inner strength when facing adversity. It is in his solitary moments that we learn more about Bahari as he thinks back to his father and sister - who were both imprisoned under past Iranian regimes.

Interestingly, Stewart has not depicted those who captured and tortured Bahari as monsters, instead he had humanised them and showed that they too were trapped by the situation in which they found themselves in. They did what they did out of fear of those giving the orders rather than out of evil or the desire to hurt another.

Stewart has delivered a film that has characters at its heart while crafting an intelligent and gripping story around them. This is one of the best directorial debuts that you will see all year and sets Stewart up for a very exciting filmmaking career.

Rosewater is out now.

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