‘Camp X-Ray,’ Gitmo Drama Starring Kristen Stewart: Review Roundup

January 19, 2014

Kristen Stewart is the star of Peter Sattler’s ‘Camp X-Ray,’ the Guantanamo Bay drama which had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. With such a controversial setting, the movie is getting a buzz. But what do the movie critics think of the film itself as well as its star of erstwhile ‘Twilight Saga’ movies?

Kristen Stewart, costar Payman Maadi and the film’s writer and director Peter Sattler and cast members were on hand at Sundance for the world premiere of the movie which within just days has already received massive attention for its subject matter, as well as its principal star.

Kristen Stewart in a role that could not be more different from ‘Twilight Saga’s Bella Swan. She portrays Pvt. Amy Cole a military prison guard who has been stationed at Guantanamo Bay’s infamous prison camp, the titular ‘Camp X-Ray.’ During the shooting of the movie, Stewart was a frequent target of paparazzi photos, and pictures of her in military garb have been circulating for months.

But now at Sundance all focus is on the drama itself which finds her character in what is a disconcerting atmosphere, especially as a first assignment. The story focuses on the friendship Pvt. Cole develops with one of the detainees, Ali Amir, who is portrayed by Payman Maadi.

The movie critics are weighing in and reviews are mixed to favorable. Here’s a roundup.

“….First-time writer-director Peter Sattler promised a packed house at the Eccles world premiere that this wouldn’t be the Gitmo film we were expecting, and indeed the film wasn’t blatantly political and seems well-researched. Dramatically, though, the film is lacking; the pace is far too slow and despite Stewart being onscreen in nearly every scene we hardly get to know her until the closing minutes, when it’s far too late to care…..” — New York Post

“…Camp X-Ray” is most commendable for believably depicting the U.S. military from a female’s point of view, particularly as Cole gets mistreated by a macho male corporal (Lane Garrison) and dares to fight the invisible war by filing a report with the commanding officer (John Carroll Lynch). So, too, the film treats its characters, guards and inmates alike, with clear compassion, although, as a terror-war movie, its preoccupation with the heartwarming exception to the rule too often turns bold American drama into standard operating procedure….” — Variety

“… In essence a two-hander, it balances a powerfully internalized performance from Kristen Stewart, delivering perhaps her best screen work to date as an inexperienced military guard, against an equally compelling characterization from Payman Maadi as the long-term detainee who pierces her shell. Its psychological complexity and rich emotional rewards should ensure this expertly crafted if overlong film a significant audience….” — Hollywood Reporter

“….Camp X-Ray suffers from bouts of clumsy, tone-deaf writing—in particular the scenes of Ali complaining about the facility having all but the final Potter book. It comes off as slightly comical, when it should be far, far from it….But, by the end of Camp X-Ray, you’re won over by Stewart’s layered turn as Cole, and Maadi’s as the defiant Ali. It’s a role perfectly suited to her strengths—vulnerability and hidden courage—and few young actresses, with the exception of Jennifer Lawrence, can hold a close-up like Stewart…..” — Daily Beast

“…Sattler’s fumbled Gitmo romance proves that its star, Kristen Stewart, is well set for a fulfilling career outside the lucrative Twilight franchise. But the film itself is so crude and overstretched, it’s a wonder she didn’t attempt to tunnel out before the credits rolled….Nestled somewhere deep inside Camp X-Ray – possibly in handcuffs, conceivably hooded – is a decent, heartfelt film just longing to be free…..” — The Guardian

The movie as of yet does not have a release date. While at Sundance, both Kristen Stewart and the director Peter Sattler were interviewed and discussed the movie; video is below. Check back for the trailer which will be added as soon as it is made available.

Pictures: PR Photos

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