Zero Dark Thirty

13 Jan



Zero Dark Thirty takes a look at the events leading up to the capture of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. The film  portrays the driving force behind this capture as one woman, Maya, played by the stunning Jessica Chastain. ( Who looks insanely like Bryce Dallas Howard in my opinion. ) Chastain’s performance also drives this film, and she’s been rewarded with a well deserved Oscar nomination for best actress. This film is quite long at 2 hours and 37 minutes but there really wasn’t a single scene that could have been cut. Talented director Kathryn Bigelow gives us a film that demands our patience, and therefore genuinely invites the audience to feel Maya’s struggle; the setbacks, the successes and the agonizing wait while the bureaucratic red tape is cut. I didn’t like this picture so much as I respected it. The sets, the dialogue and the performances are all stellar but if you were thinking you’d see some high octane car chases and stuff blowing up, you may be disappointed. I adore Bigelow’s ability to build suspense, she really does it like no one else. 2008’s The Hurt Locker proves that admirably, and there are some great edge-of-your-seat moments in this film as well. There were quite a few scenes involving torture, which I thought would bother me, but they were well done and I didn’t squirm too much. 


During the film, I kept thinking “wow, this is one of the few movies that actually passes the Bechdel test.” For those of you who havent heard of the Bechdel test, it’s three questions you can ask about a movie to determine the presence of women in the film. The three questions are these: Is there more than one woman in this movie? Do they have names? Do they talk to each other about something other than a man? An insane amount of movies fail this test. Not to say that those movies are bad, but it does show a systemic problem in the industry about the lack of clear voices women have to tell their stories. Stories that do not revolve around boyfriends, husbands or sons. Check out the link to it here   It was so encouraging to see the complex friendship development between Maya and her Jessica, played by Jennifer Ehle. There is also no love interest in this movie for Chastain which is encouraging to see as well.  This is a character who can be admired for all the right reasons, and her faults are human for interesting reasons as well. Overall this is an extremely well done film, but it will demand your attention and willingness to luxuriate in the tension. 

Recommendation: A great film that demands a patience and willing audience.  

Later this week I will be posting some thoughts on the Oscar nominations announced this week. I have yet to see all the films nominated for best picture, though I do make an effort to see them all before Oscar night. Also, sorry this post wasn’t particularly funny, but there weren’t many laughs in this film. The only laughable part of our movie-going experience this week were the terrible trailers preceding this film. A notable would be my good pal Halle Berry’s newest bomb, The Call, which features her bonkers haircut and variations of a bad panicked expression. That film is definitely going on the no fly list. 


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