Zero Dark Thirty

zero_dark_thirty_poster04_jessica_chastain
Zero Dark Thirty
Release date: February 15, 2013 (India)
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle, Reda Kateb, Kyle Chandler

Disclaimer: Given the delay in the date of release, I’ll keep the review short and refined.

Zero Dark Thirty is a period film on the “War on Terror” waged by the United States of America in the post-9/11 phase capturing the successive global terror activities and the eventual killing of Osama bin Laden. On closer perception, it is the story of CIA officer Maya’s (Jessica Chastain) sole determination: she’s focused on leads based on Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts ever since she got out of high school.

It is also the story of Maya’s struggle: being placed at the ground base in Pakistan at a young age, and losing a close accomplice, Jessica (Jennifer Ehle) to a suicide bomber inside the well-protected CIA camp. Consequently, it is also the story of Maya’s belief in her gut or practically speaking, her research in the form of her insistence on Osama’s presence in Abbottabad.

The detailing is excellent here. Bigelow captures the minutest of emotions in the torture cells, Marriott blasts and almost everywhere else. The geographical and linguistic specifications are very precise and authentic. The narrative also makes use of the major events such as London blasts, Invasion of Iraq, the WMD disaster, Marriott blasts along with the Empire State bomb findings.

Jessica Chastain and Reda Kateb snatch away all the acting honours in this film. Chastain is believably real and convincingly feisty in her portrayal of her character. There aren’t any major breathing gaps to fill the frames in between, but the writing keeps the narrative dry enough to not let the viewer slack off. The raid at the end is distinctly engaging, depicting the simultaneous rage of contradicting emotions where the SEALs come across innocent children and women inside bin Laden’s house.

The final shot is perhaps the most apt visual of this entire saga. Maya is on a plane, and the pilot asks her for the destination and she ironically remains silent and starts weeping. Bigelow’s direction is complemented perfectly by Greig Fraser’s cinematography. Possibly, the only brickbats the film faces are for the editing team, (Sorry Katheryn, you face the brunt too.) The timing of a few cuts and the overall pacing is damaged in the process.

Notwithstanding the flaws,  Zero Dark Thirty is not just a great history film, it’s also one of the finest films of our times.

My rating: ****1/2

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