Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Stars: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke & Kyle Chandler
With Homeland currently the hot property, and the perpetually on the verge of a nervous breakdown Carrie Mathison becoming a household name, Zero Dark Thirty’s release seems more than a little timely. Whilst this Female CIA Agent lead drama shares many similarities with its small screen counterpart, Kathryn Bigelow treads a different path with this stylish drama. However, her directional style seems to draw heavily from the major US TV shows.
When Maya (Chastain), a CIA Intelligence Officer who has spent her entire employment in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, arrives at a US base in Pakistan she meets Dan (Clarke) and is instantly exposed to the harsh realities of field work. As the search begins to take over her life, she must convince her boss (Chandler) and his superiors to take decisive steps to neutralise the al-Qeada leader.
Don’t let the runtime put you off, there’s no filler or downtime in Zero Dark Thirty. Stylistically, it plays like an extended episode of top notch TV show, allowing the viewer to become more immersed in the plot. The camera work and editing bears testimony to this. She has also sourced many of her cast from TV, and in her heroine she has one of the best up and coming actresses in the shape of Chastain. As with her Oscar-winning debut, Hurt Locker, the inclusion of so many relatively unknown faces gives the film an added freshness, and adds a touch of realism.
The only time it feels a little forced is in the dénouement where the expected pay-off occurs. However, the drama behind the scenes trumps the action on the ground. This feels like a sure-fire Oscar winning film, the pacing is perfect, the acting top notch. Chastain manages to portray someone who is both uncomfortable with the methods employed, but determined to get a job done. There is nothing glitzy or glamorous about Zero Dark Thirty. It is well-balanced in the way it deals with the moral issues behind torture and interrogation. If you have a delicate temperament, the first 30-45 minutes could potentially be a tough watch, however it is well worth it.
Zero Dark Thirty is easily the best Oscar-nominated film I’ve seen so far.
out now at Showroom Cinema http://www.showroomworkstation.org.uk/zerodarkthirty