Starring: Kristen Stewart, Payman Maadi
Director: Peter Sattler
Kristen Stewart shot to fame as Bella Swan in the Twilight franchise, but since leaving the film series behind, she has been tackling a wide range of movies and roles. Camp X-Ray sees her tackle the war drama genre as she teams up with filmmaker Peter Sattler.
Camp X-Ray marks the feature film directorial debut for Sattler as he makes the leap from short projects for the first time. As well as being in the director's chair, Sattler has also penned the film's screenplay.
Hoping to escape her small town roots and make a difference in the world, Cole (Stewart) joins the military and is soon assigned a guard position at Guantanamo Bay. Surrounded by hostility on both sides of the fence, she discovers her mission is far from the black and white ideal she expected.
Striking up an unusual friendship with one of the detainees (Maadi) she finds herself forming an unlikely bond in a place where nothing is as simple as good vs. evil.
Camp X-Ray is another movie that really allows Stewart to flex her acting muscles as she and Paymann Maadi deliver fantastic performances from start to finish. Together, they really elevate this movie and it is great to see an actress leading this kind of film; so often we see these roles reserved for men.
Stewart has quite often been criticised for nothing being an emotional actress, but, with this role, is proves to be a huge asset for her. Cole is a woman who is alienated on both sides; she doesn't fit in with the prisoners or her fellow guards and it is a very lonely experience for her. She keeps her emotions to herself and her acting style suits this type of role perfectly.
You expect a film like Camp X-Ray to explore the rights and wrongs of a place like Guantanamo Bay and the how morally right it was to hold these men for so long with no trial. Sadly, Camp X-Ray is a movie that is not as political as it could have been and it is a little lacking when it comes to these kinds of themes.
Instead, this is a movie about the encounters between Cole and detainee Ali, who has been in prison for eight years. This is a small and rather intimate story about the development of this rather unexpected and unusual friendship.
They may start out on different sides, but over the course of the movie, there is a respect and an understanding the develops between them. Both characters are in a prison of sorts - in her role, Cole is not free - and they find a common ground and a comfort during their time with each other. Ali wants human interaction, while Cole is looking for a conversation and way of thinking that she doesn't get from her fellow soldiers.
At times, Camp X-Ray feels more like a two-man play than a film, but I like the intimacy of the story and the central relationship; at times, it feels like you are intruding on very personal moments that they are sharing with each other.
This is a solid directorial debut from Peter Sattler but I would have liked to have seen the director and writer tackle the underlying and political issues of Guantanamo Bay more. As well as an interesting character study, this could also have been a powerful and thought provoking film about the rights and wrongs of a place like Guantanamo Bay.
Camp X-Ray is out Digital HD and DVD now.
Tagged in Kristen Stewart