Sunday, January 20, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

We saw Zero Dark Thirty last night.
It's an intense movie, but I was surprised that I was not more moved by it.
I did not think it was as good as Kathryn Bigelow's prior movie, The Hurt Locker. Whereas Locker used well-developed characters to examine the reasons people fight, Zero was more or less a straightforward narrative of the search for Bin Laden, without sufficiently interesting themes or characters.
Jessica Chastain was good, but I was unclear on her motivations. In comparison to Claire Danes's character in Homeland, Chastain's character was not very compelling.
There was an underdeveloped sub-plot about bureaucratic risk-taking (or the lack thereof).
The biggest flaw was that the examination of torture was incomplete. Perhaps this was Bigelow's point: forcing the viewer to fill in the blanks about the role torture did (or did not) play in the eventual finding and killing of Bin Laden.  The viewer must consider his/her feelings about torture without too much directorial or scriptwriting guidance (Chastain's cipher-like performance also contributed to this effect).  Nevertheless, I think the movie could have done more to engage the issue of torture from multiple philosophical/pragmatic/political perspectives.

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