Thursday, November 27, 2014

A small drama about a big issue

Kristen Stewart of the Twilight movies stretches a bit in Camp X-Ray, a drama about a young soldier working as a prison guard at Gitmo. Stewart's Private Cole is a small-town, unsophisticated soldier who wants to do well at any job to which she's assigned. A somewhat monotonous story focuses on the initially hostile but increasingly sympathetic relationship between Cole and a particularly rebellious prisoner (Payman Maadi). Did I say "prisoner?" The guards at Gitmo are instructed never to call their charges prisoners but to refer to them as "detainees." Writer/director Peter Sattler muddies the waters a bit with a digressive episode in which a non-com (Lane Garrison) sexually abuses Cole, who then must pay a price for her resistance. Essentially a two-hander built around Stewart and Maadi, the movie proves intermittently effective as it builds toward a soft-hearted conclusion that doesn't quite fit with the screenplay's more clear-eyed intentions; i.e., assessing the impact Gitmo has on the humanity of both guards and detainees.

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