What movie was that...?

18 January 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Pro torture? Anti torture? Too much sensitive intel divulged to the world about acrimonious and savage US interrogation tactics during the first tenth of the 21st century? As for these questions, it’s a moot effing point. The torture happened, US sanctioned torture that yielded, among (surely) a warehouse full of blind alleys and useless information, intelligence that brought a SEAL team to Osama Bin Laden’s compound ten years after the Twin Towers attack. Personally, I think the film is far more complex than being simply pro or anti torture, and you don’t need some tacky scene where a soldier cries in a bunker to see the effects that years of breaking human beings have on those involved. That is largely thanks to the phenomenal work of talent like Jason Clarke and Jessica Chastain, who inhabit the moral gray area of their characters with brash and scorching devotion. Is what the United States did to extract information during this War on Terror grossly wrong? Of course, and the movie plainly agrees. But did these savage tactics lead to uncovering the whereabouts of one of the world's greatest terrorists? Yes, and the movie plainly agrees with this argument as well. The mark of a great film is the refusal to be simply one thing or another, and a film dealing with this sort of content that decides to be one thing over another reduces itself to mere propaganda. Kathryn Bigelow is one of our finest filmmakers, and she would no more reduce her film than she would cede an ounce of integrity in achieving any filmic vision she may have. I know for me, watching the film in a full theatre, the climax of the narrative was met with the same sort of shock and silence depicted in the film, There was very little conversation from the audience, but a sense of dazed closure seemed to permeate the auditorium. From a directing, storytelling, editing and acting standpoint, the film is as tight as they come, and Jessica Chastain deserves every award in the book as Maya, consumed with thought of capturing OBL. There will continue to be much debate over this excellent film, but the inherit weakness in each argument is the debater’s compulsion to simplify a film that expertly deals with an immensely complex event. Zero Dark Thirty is a difficult film, but a film well worth watching. 

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