ZERO DARK THIRTY
Starring: Jessica Chastain Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow Running time: 157 minutes
How did the CIA find Osama bin Laden? Who were the "heroes" who found him?
Zero Dark Thirty answers these questions while raising many more.
The film is allegedly based on eyewitness testimony of the events leading up to the killing of the al-Qaida leader at 30 minutes past midnight (zero dark thirty).
The Oscar-winning team of Kathryn Bigelow (director) and Marc Bowl (screenwriter) have reunited (after The Hurt Locker) to construct something wholly their own: a documentary, a thriller and an essay on the actions of its characters. All of Zero Dark Thirty is a knockout.
The film opens with a harrowing experience: a collage of noises from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, with nothing more than a blank black screen for visuals. The effect is tortuous. What can be imagined is often more powerful than what can be depicted on screen. From the very first scene the viewer becomes aware that Zero Dark Thirty will deny the Hollywood formula.
The film follows Maya's (Jessica Chastain's) 10-year search for bin Laden after 9/11. The audience knows nothing of her except what her name implies - "Maya" signifies an illusion or appearance.
Maya is just as uncompromising as the men. In an early scene a man is being tortured. As the torturer leaves the interrogation room the detainee begs for Maya's help.
You can help yourself by being truthful," she responds.
It is these torture sequences that many film reviewers fuss over.
My immediate reaction to these reviewers? Wow! How could they be blind to the film's intentions?
The film does not cast judgments on any of the actions of its characters. Instead, it presents the issues objectively, like a journalist would.
If the CIA gained intelligence by torturing detainees, then this is fact; it's not that the film has a pro-torture agenda.
Carefully ponder the final shot of the film; certainly, it refutes the pro-torture assertion. As a matter of fact, the film's moral neutrality is one of its strengths. It shows both sides of the war.
Scenes from the film deserve to be talked about: Should we torture? Should the Navy Seals have invaded a compound in an allied country only on the basis of a hunch? These are all questions Zero Dark Thirty subtly asks us through its non-partisanship.
It is common knowledge the Navy Seals broke into a compound in Pakistan and killed bin Laden.
So when the climax of the film depicts this why am I on the edge of my seat? Because Bigelow is so good at giving it realism - she does not rely on manipulation to entice the viewer. The silence, darkness and lack of certainty cause the viewer to experience what the Navy Seals must have felt that night.
The efforts of Bigelow, Boal and Chastain have made Zero Dark Thirty a triumph when sequels and remakes own the cinema. It's informative, thrilling and endeav-ors to start discussion on moral issues. What more could I have desired?
. Joshua Cabrita is a Grade 11 student at Riverside Secondary.
He is a founding member of the school's movie club, where students meet to view old classics and discuss their meaning and significance. One of his audacious dreams is to become a full-time professional film critic.