Glasgow Film Festival 2015: Rosewater
Absurdity is Jon Stewart's weapon of choice in his directorial debut, Rosewater. It recounts the ordeals of London-based Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari (Bernal), who was ludicrously accused of spying for the West and imprisoned when visiting his homeland to cover the hotly contested 2009 general election.
All he has for company are four walls and a personal-space-invading interrogator (Bodnia), whose hang-ups and ignorance shape much of the creeping political satire. Before the arrest, Bodnia's nameless agent comically rifles through Maziar's belongings, branding as pornography The Sopranos (Maziar protests) and a copy of Empire magazine with a scantily-clad starlet on its cover (he doesn't).
This incarceration spins the narrative on a sixpence, from a slightly messy opening which documents the electoral landscape into a two-handed chamber piece. Stewart traps the duo in tight two-shots, heightening the claustrophobia and emphasising the regime's moral redundancy in distorting visuals. Like the characters, humour and drama struggle for space and supremacy in a tonal see-saw that is earnest, funny, and strangely inert.