Coming to theatres from director/writer Peter Sattler and IFC is a film that
This film tells the story of Cole (Kristen Stewart), a soldier who joined the military to get away from the small town life. Wanting to go to Iraq, she is instead assigned to Guantanamo guarding prisoners.
After learning the ropes a conversation begins with Ali (Peyman Moaadi), an inmate who has been at Guantanamo for over eight years. Day by day they push the conversations further and further until Cole realizes that her view about Ali has changed.
One event between them will leave Cole changed.
FINAL WORD: Stewart as Cole is a woman who is obviously going through a life change before Guantanamo. Quickly she learns the hostility of the prisoners she is assigned to guard yet connects with Ali. Stewart’s performance is engrossing if not clearly for the fact that there aren’t vampires involved. The moments with Moaadi’s character are believable and it is because of Stewart’s ability to hold it together (in one scene in particular – no I won’t tell you the scene but you’ll know it, trust me!). I absolutely enjoyed her performance.
Moaadi as Ali is definitely a man who has been in a cell a long time. One moment acting a little off centered and the next having the clarity of his captive feelings, Moaadi is an amazing choice to play this role. Staying in a small cell for almost the entirety of the film I became a little claustrophobic myself. I truly was mesmerized by Moaadi’s performance.
Other cast include: Lane Garrison as Ransdell, Joseph Julian Soria as Rico, Cory Michael Smith as Bergen, Ser’Darius Blain as Jackson, Tara Holt as Mary, and Marco Khan as Mahmoud.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give CAMP X-RAY three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. I will admit that the film left me wondering about the situation at Guantanamo and it is because of Stewart and Moaadi’s performance.
This definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I admire the writing of Sattler. The film isn’t a subject that has been taken on by filmmakers. In a way the film is stripped down to the bare bones so there are no special effects or large monsters to distract the viewer. It is exactly as it should have been – face to face – one human being to another trying to understand the situations they both find themselves in.
One of the problems for this film is that it doesn’t go further with the issues of Guantanamo. I was waiting for it to push out more with the issues and reasons Guantanamo exists in the first place. Stewart’s character was ripe and in the right position to get answers and it didn’t happen.
That being said it is the performances here that are riveting and thought provoking. Will it change the world? Probably not, but I can guarantee that it will cause talk – as it should. The film certainly doesn’t point fingers but instead leaves each viewer to their own thoughts.
In the end – connection takes courage.