“Rosewater, a true-life prison drama set in Iran, is one of the most incisive movies about the post-9/11 world ever made. As a filmmaker, Jon Stewart, the quipster-newsman of The Daily Show turns out to be a '70s classicist, deadly sincere not just about his subject but about doing everything possible to capture the full, revealing truth of it . In Rosewater, he takes the story of Maziar Bahari, the Iranian-Canadian journalist who was incarcerated by the Iranian government in 2009 and lets the drama speak for itself.

“Bahari, played with fervour and a kind of elegant modesty by Gael García Bernal, was a 40-something journalist with a pregnant wife when he was dispatched to cover 2009’s Iranian presidential election, in which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faced reformist challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi. When Bahari arrives in Tehran, he talks to a pack of young reformers, who have loaded the roof of their headquarters with illegal satellite dishes – they call it ’dish university’. This is what the election is really about: letting the outside world in.

“Ahmadinejad is declared the winner by a landslide, and protesters take to the streets. Though the film uses a lot of actual news footage, you never feel like it's blending reality and staged scenes. When Bahari arrives at Evin Prison, he's placed in solitary confinement, and the real drama begins. The fear of torture hangs in the air. He's blindfolded constantly and subjected to painful abuse. But the most excruciating torment isn't physical, it's psychological: he simply doesn't know what his enemies want.

“In prison, Bahari's interrogator, known as ‘the Specialist’ is obsessed with making him confess. Since Bahari has, in fact, nothing to confess, the situation is an absurd one. García Bernal makes Bahari a decent, smart, but basically ordinary guy with nothing special to draw on to save himself.

“What allows Rosewater to earn its optimism is that it's a movie very much about a global political sphere that has been rocked by an explosion of media. In Iran this is the real writing on the wall: the regime can put people in prison, but what they can’t keep out is information.”- BBC


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