Jon Stewart is, arguably, a national treasure. Appearing on TV screens night after night with his popular satirical series The Daily Show, the comedian accurately skewers everything from politics to the media to social trends, and offers an alternative view of world events. He occupies that venerated space – a trusted voice on television – thanks to the consistent, rational and, above all, kind way in which he regards his audience, and their best interests. He does excellent comedy, yes, but always with a serious undertone. So, it is with an overwhelming sense of curiosity that we press play on the first trailer for his dramatic directorial debut, Rosewater.
The film is an adaptation of a memoir written by Iranian/Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari (and co-written by Aimee Molloy), titled Then They Came For Me, which details his experience of being incarcerated in Iran for 118 days, following the 2009 election protests in that country. Accused of spying, Bahari faced harsh interrogations and became locked in a battle of wills with his captor. Jon Stewart wrote the adapted screenplay, in addition to directing and co-producing the film, which stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Shohreh Aghdashloo. The movie’s title – Rosewater – refers to the scent of Bahari’s interrogator – his most memorable feature, since Bahari spent much of his time blindfolded.
It is in no way surprising that Stewart would choose to make his directorial debut with a politically-themed tale, but the television host has a particular connection to this story. Bahari had previously participated in a Daily Show segment with series correspondent Jason Jones, pretending to be a spy. During his interrogations, footage of this segment was exhibited as evidence of his supposed crimes. The connection was discussed during a second appearance by Bahari on the show, after his release – a meeting which led to Jon Stewart optioning the rights to Bahari’s book.
So, what does this first trailer tell us about this debut? Well, it tells us that, once again, there is some distance between a preview and a whole film. What we have here is snippets of a movie cut to fit a standard, abbreviated narrative. There’s the cute, private moments between Bahari, his fiancée and their unborn child. There’s the clips of him bonding with the citizens of Iran, and collecting relatively unremarkable footage. There’s the moment when he realises the power of the protests he is seeing, and there’s the surge to the end, as he defies his captors and refuses to break. It’s as if someone has handed a trailer-maker this film in one hand, and a tedious template in the other – with the demand to cut it to fit. The thing is, if you disregard the standard marketing ploy, you can find the real movie coursing underneath – and it is striking stuff, thanks to Gael Garcia Bernal.
Rosewater will arrive in cinemas on November 7th 2014, after first screening at the 41st Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.
Source: The Playlist