Director: Kathryn Bigelow - Starring: Jessica Chastain, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke and Chris Pratt
Zero Dark Thirty
is not an easy movie to watch. Not because it is a poorly made film but for the emotions that it evokes. The film begins on September 11, 2001. There have been movies since the tragedy that have exploited that horrible day. We know all too well about the horrors that occurred in New York City, Washington D.C., and in the skies above Pennsylvania. I do not need to see those events dramatized on the movie screen after watching it live from my TV that day.
Oscar winning director
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
begins her masterful film with a simple black screen. A mix of frantic phone calls from the Twin Towers and the highjacked airlines are all you hear. This black screen and those voices are far more dramatic than any footage that could have been shown.
The film focuses on the clandestine operation to track and capture Osama Bin Laden. Oscar nominee
Jessica Chastain (The Help)
is a young CIA agent whose entire mission is to track and find Bin Laden. The search takes years and you see and feel the physical and emotional toll played out on screen through her performance. She battles bureaucracy, a male dominated intelligence community, and the murder of colleagues. Chastain has already won the Golden Globe for best actress. Her stunning performance certainly deserves an Oscar next month.
The film spans both the Bush and Obama administrations. There has been some controversy about the torture depicted in the movie. Bigelow does not pass any judgement on either administration. Like a true story teller Bigelow is able to present the material and allows the audience to make up its own mind.
The actual raid on Bin Laden's compound comes at the very end of the two and half hour film. Famed Seal Team Six's operation is truly heart stopping. There are no unnecessary beats. I give much credit to the editors of this film:
Oscar nominee William Goldenberg (Seabiscuit)
Oscar nominee Dylan Tichenor (There Will Be Blood)
. It felt like a shot by shot sequence of what must have occured that May night in 2011.
Zero Dark Thirty is a difficult film to review. It feels strange praising artistic achievement that is based on the deaths of over 3000 citizens on September 11, 2001 and countless service men and women who have lost their lives in the decade since. But this film does honor the sacrifices of our intelligence community and our armed forces. Bigelow has made a film that is reverent and thoughtful, and the actors' performances are a testament to how serious this subject matter was approached. A top notch effort and deserving of its five Oscar nominations.