Kathryn Bigelow's follow up to her intense and critictally acclaimed Anti-war film, The Hurt Locker, is said to be even more intense and better than the film that put Kathryn Bigelow on the map. While I thought the first two acts of The Hurt Locker were beautifully paced and magnificently told I felt that the final act kind of lost it's edge and became a forgettable mess, (seriously, I don't even remember how Hurt Locker ended). Maybe with her new film, Zero Dark Thirty, she can end on a better note than her last film but still have the beginning and middle just as gritty and gut- wrenching.
After seeing Zero Dark Thirty yesterday I can declare my prayers answered. Zero Dark Thirty surpasses it's predecessor in a narrative sense and the film actually holds up right until the end. I can honestly say that this is one of my favorite films of the year.
With CIA type movies like this I usually tend to get confused. I am usually confused with what they are trying to accomplish at certain parts or who and why are they looking for someone. In this movie however I was rarely unsure of what the goal was and when I was a little unsure the movie explained it again for me. That's probably the best thing about this movie. The script is so engaging and descriptive that it takes a very complicated, long story with endless facts and makes it easy to comprehend. Kind of like what James Vanderbilt did with Zodiac.
A lot of controversy has been revolving around this movie even before it came out. One of the controversial arguments is that Mark Boal, the screen writer for this film, probably made a lot of stuff up. Most of you are probably wondering about the paragraph above and why I described the strongest aspect of this movie was the script and screenwriting despite the controversy. To respond I say who cares if he made things up.
Can you think of any "based on real life" movie that is 100% factual, even 90% factual, (not including documentaries)? Most "based on real life" movies are largely embellished. He was writing a movie, not a documentary, so he had to make a few of the more boring parts a little more interesting. Mark Boal's script was, of course, a little on truthful but he got the events and how they happened, and the overall process right. It's not like he took out some factual parts and threw in an action scene that never happened in real life. In fact there was hardly any action in this movie and I respect Mark Boal for trying to make something undistractingly serious and trying to challenge the audience. Mark Boal is my pick for Best Screenplay.
Of course how can I not talk about the acting from Jessica Chastain. She is absolutely brilliant. She took a character which she was unable to know that much about and made it one of the most memorable characters in recent memory. Jessica Chastain is the most realistic actor in Hollywood today. Like her performance in this movie, go back and look at her performance from The Help and only pay attention to her face. The facial expressions that she makes are so precise and flawless that it makes that character seem more realistic and more interesting to watch. The casting crew cast the perfect actress for the most realistic character in the most realistic movie this year.
Talking about Jessica Chastain and her character, Maya, this brings up another point that many critics have been complaining about and that is that Maya is really the only character with any real depth to them. While I do agree that this is true I do not consider this a bad thing at all. Maybe a minor incovenience but certainly not a criticism. I believe that it further enhances this movie's great storytelling ability.
This movie is told through the eyes of Maya. We spend the whole movie with her and we come to know her by heart. Maya is what you would call a workaholic. She spends most of her day trying to find Bin Laden and doesn't really socialize personally with anyone. Of course we are not going to know anyone personally though the eyes of Maya because Maya doesn't know anyone in this movie personally herself.
Overall, the best way to sum up this movie is that it's purely amazing. It is told flawlessly through the underrated and misunderstood script of Mark Boal. It has beautifully real acting from the greatest and most versatile actresses of today, Jessica Chastain and was directed by one of the most realistic directors of today, Kathryn Bigelow. Also this film has one of the most breath-taking final sequences I have ever seen. As if you couldn't already guess, I give Zero Dark Thirty an A.