'Rosewater': The mind games between interrogator and prisoner are mildly engrossing

'Rosewater' stars Gael García Bernal as journalist Maziar Bahari, who was imprisoned in Iran and accused of being a spy. The movie is 'The Daily Show' host Jon Stewart's directorial debut.

Laith Al-Majali/Open Road Films/AP
Gael Garcia Bernal in a scene from the film 'Rosewater.'

“Rosewater," Jon Stewart’s directorial debut, is about the incarceration of the London-based Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael García Bernal), who was in Tehran for Newsweek covering the 2009 presidential election. Thrown into solitary confinement and accused of being a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency, the MI6, or the Israelis, he refuses to confess to a lie and, after 118 days of (by prison movie standards) relatively light punishment at the hands of his interrogator, nicknamed “Rosewater” (Kim Bodnia), he is released. Both before and after his imprisonment, Bahari appeared as a guest on “The Daily Show,” hence the Stewart connection.

The mind games between these two are mildly engrossing, and at least half the film is essentially confined to their jailhouse duet. But we already know how this will all turn out. Stewart does a credible job of maintaining the story’s immediacy, but I must say I felt relieved that the film wasn’t a masterpiece. If it was, we’d have more reason to fear Stewart will leave "The Daily Show.” Grade: B- (Rated R for language including some crude references, and violent content.)

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