‘Rosewater’ Trailer & Poster Premieres as First Reviews are Somewhat Muted

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Gael Garcia Bernal in Rosewater
Gael Garcia Bernal in Rosewater
Photo: Open Road Films

It was announced Rosewater will have its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival followed shortly by a Toronto Film Festival appearance and now the first trailer and poster for the film has been release along with the first wave of reviews.

First off, Scott Foundas at Variety says it’s “[a]n alternately somber and darkly funny drama” that will likely be compared to Argo. Foundas adds, “Largely a two-hander between Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal) and the interrogator who puts him through a gauntlet of soul-crushing mindgames, Stewart’s confident, superbly acted debut feature works as both a stirring account of human endurance and a topical reminder of the risks faced by journalists in pursuit of the truth, minus the caper antics and flag waving of Ben Affleck’s populist Oscar winner.”

Over at The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy says it’s “[an] emotionally accessible but very modest tale of one man’s temporary misfortune at the hands of the Iranian government… [done in] a capable, straightforward manner [… and it] will get loads of attention based on the celebrity of it writer-director. But if this very same film had been made by an unknown director, it would pass in the night with only scant notice.”

Steve Pond at The Wrap says “[it’s] smart and affecting, but not quite as sharp as you might expect,” before adding, “[It’s] a solid, quietly involving work about political turmoil in the Middle East, and the toll it takes on a free press. Like much of Stewart’s work, it’s smart and it points fingers in directions in which they need to be pointed.”

In short it sounds like it’s a good movie that may be getting a little boost due to the man at the helm, which isn’t a problem, but perhaps one that will get a good pat on the back and we’ll all move on with respect, but no major kudos. Nothing wrong with that, there can be worse things than a “capable” first time effort.

Following its appearance at Telluride and Toronto, Rosewater will hit theaters on November 7. I plan on seeing it in Toronto shortly, now here are the trailer and poster.

rosewater-poster

Rosewater follows the Tehran-born Bahari, a 42-year-old broadcast journalist with Canadian citizenship living in London. In June 2009, Bahari returned to Iran to interview Mir-Hossein Moussavi, who was the prime challenger to controversial incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As Moussavi’s supporters rose up to protest Ahmadinejad’s victory declaration hours before the polls closed on election day, Bahari endured great personal risk by submitting camera footage of the unfolding street riots to the BBC. Bahari was soon arrested by Revolutionary Guard police, led by a man identifying himself only as “Rosewater,” who proceeded to torture and interrogate the journalist over the next 118 days.

In October 2009, with Bahari’s wife leading an international campaign from London to have her husband freed, and Western media outlets including “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart continuing to keep the story alive, Iranian authorities released Bahari on $300,000 bail and the promise he would act as a spy for the government.