Friday, January 17, 2014

'Camp X-Ray' Sundance Film Festival Reviews & Reactions (Part 1)

| PART 2 |

Here are the FIRST 'Camp X-Ray' reviews & reactions! Enjoy!
#Congrats #Proudfan #Welcomeback

Please keep in mind that reviews can contain spoilers, lots of spoilers, and that negative reviews can be interesting to read.


•• Variety, Rob Nelson: Channeling Jodie Foster in “The Silence of the Lambs,” Kristen Stewart delivers a solid performance as a rookie Guantanamo Bay guard in “Camp X-Ray,” a competently directed, politically questionable film whose most appreciative viewers will leave feeling better about Gitmo. Personalizing the war on terror through its story of the tricky friendship that develops between Stewart’s tough-and-tender private and a Middle Eastern inmate (Payman Maadi) whom she’s instructed never to call a prisoner (those are protected by the Geneva Convention), first-time writer-director Peter Sattler’s pic means very well, but strains credibility and ethics alike. Commercial prospects appear limited.

Much of the dialogue-driven film has Maadi’s Ali, more cat than mouse, and Stewart’s Cole, frightened but drawn in, conversing through the tiny window in his cell, a conceit that puts the pic firmly in the company of “Lambs,” not least when the private refers to her charge as “Lecter.“

Like Clarice Starling, Pvt. Cole is a young woman from a small town who’s challenged to keep her cool as the incarcerated man taunts, intrigues and occasionally humiliates her — most violently here in a scene that informs the viewer of what U.S. military guards apparently call a fecal “cocktail.” (Stewart’s slight resemblance to Foster — first noticed by David Fincher, who cast the two as mother and daughter in “Panic Room” — only adds to the similarity between Starling and Cole.)

Set mostly in the late aughts, the movie begins in 2001 with TV news images of the Twin Towers spewing smoke, followed by the brisk apprehension of three Middle Eastern men, one of whom is Ali. The first reel of “Camp X-Ray” amounts to Sattler’s most gripping filmmaking by far, as it also includes the startling sight of Stewart looking stern and beaten down as Cole, who arrives to work on a Gitmo cell block eight years after 9/11. Alas, the early promise of an aptly intense look at U.S. detention center realities gradually gives way to something a good deal gentler — and a lot less plausible.

An avid reader of both the Quran and the Harry Potter books (all but the last one, anyway), Ali brilliantly manages to get Cole talking, taking her aback with his commentary on the library materials she distributes to inmates. That the Gitmo guards have withheld the final Potter volume from circulation gives Cole a rather predictable choice to make, while allowing Sattler to portray a rather more tolerable cruelty than any informed American citizen is likely to have heard about before.

“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.

The two leads are excellent and play off each other deftly. Acting almost exclusively with his bearded face as seen through the cell window, Maadi (“A Separation”) calibrates precisely the character’s mix of humor, anger, despair and endurance. In a turn that will surprise and impress those who know her only from the “Twilight” films, Stewart is riveting, especially in the final scenes, where Sattler reverses the camera’s perspective so that Cole is the one viewed through the window, appearing as a sort of prisoner herself.

Editing of the nearly two-hour film could be much tighter, particularly in the midsection. James Laxton’s widescreen cinematography effectively communicates tension in both open and confined spaces. Other tech credits are sharp, with the exception of a bumpy sound mix.

•• The Hollywood Reporter, David Rooney: Writer-director Peter Sattler’s riveting first feature, Camp X-Ray, leaves aside the controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay to focus instead on a personal drama of human connection and compassion, deftly drawn out of the mundane day-to-day of cellblock life. 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 Peyman Moaadi 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.

Sattler signals his storytelling confidence from the outset with the taut pretitle sequence. An Arab-language television newscast shows the familiar image of smoke billowing from the Twin Towers, while a Muslim man prepares to leave his dingy apartment. As he pauses to pray, law enforcement agents burst into the room, slipping a sack over his head and removing him on a journey that -- in quick cuts of starkly framed images -- transports him and others by air, sea and road to a steel-fenced prison facility where they are placed in individual cages. When the sack is removed, we see the beaten, bloodied face of the man we will come to know as Ali (Moaadi), or detainee 471.

Attempting to adapt to the military mindset, Amy participates in beer blasts and fishing trips. She tries to swallow her moral misgivings when she feels Ali is being excessively punished for a transgression in which she was affected. But when Ransdell hits on her and she has second thoughts about consenting, her acceptance in the company is threatened. Observing her talking with Ali in the exercise yard, the corporal uses his power to humiliate both guard and detainee.

Amy’s decision to report Ransdell for conduct violation backfires in another intensely played scene. She is interviewed by the commanding officer (John Carroll Lynch), who makes his feelings clear concerning his views on reporting against a fellow officer and also his own resentment at being assigned to Gitmo.

At a fraction under two hours, the film could benefit from minor tightening, particularly during some midsection slackening. But the continuing evolution of Amy’s cautious friendship with Ali is observed with emotional integrity and poignancy, depicting two intelligent people in contrasting states of confinement, each of them seeking contact. The dramatic stakes are elevated in a highly suspenseful climactic scene during which both Amy and Ali reveal more about themselves in a few minutes than they have throughout the entire movie.

“You and me are at war,” Ali says to her at one point. But while the detainee’s innocence as a terrorism suspect is clearly inferred, one of the strengths of Sattler’s screenplay is his refusal to make this a straightforward drama about enemies, injustice or dehumanizing persecution. He makes it about empathy, and in doing so broadens the intimate story to find thematic universality.

Sattler’s grasp of character is strong, as is his guidance of the actors, suggesting distinct personalities among Amy’s macho fellow guards, generally with just a line or two. But the pulse of this enhanced chamber piece, much of which obviously takes place in claustrophobic interiors, is the unlikely bond between Amy and Ali.

Best known for his fine work as the embattled husband in Iranian foreign-language Oscar winner A Separation, Moaadi makes Ali a proud, angry man, as dismissive of his fellow inmates’ hostility as he is of the U.S. military. His bitterness when he strips Amy of her delusions about herself and what she has learned is formidable. But so too is his shattering fragility when he ponders his future.

Ever since the Twilight backlash began, people have questioned whether Stewart is merely a sullen screen queen or a real actor. She puts that argument to rest here, playing a tough, taciturn character driven by an inarticulate urge “to do something important,” but steadily awakened by unpredictable reality. It’s a fiercely contained performance, conveying raw personal insights even when Amy outwardly remains clenched in discomfort. There’s not a moment Stewart’s onscreen here where she isn’t completely transfixing.

•• Hitfix, Drew McWeeny: That discomfort, evident in pretty much any interview or red carpet she's ever done, is one of the her assets as a performer, and in the right role, it can be a very compelling thing. She stars as Cole, a young soldier stationed as a guard at Guantanamo Bay eight years after the events of 9/11. The movie unfolds in a very deliberate, experiential way. It actually opens with the smoking World Trade Center on TV. We see that we're in a hotel room. There's a man with several cell phones praying to Mecca. In mid-prayer, he is grabbed, a bag pulled over his head, and then we see a series of images of various people being transferred to Guantanamo. Our last glimpse of him is huddled in a cage, face bloodied and bruised, with armed soldiers all around.

Eight years later, once Cole starts her tour at Gitmo, we catch up with Ali (Payman Maadi), who is still being detained. The film paints a portrait of the daily life of both the soldiers who are stationed there and the detainees (it is pointed out early on that they are never to be referred to as "prisoners" because of the Geneva Conventions), and perhaps the strongest thing Sattler does is try to maintain a neutral eye as he looks at the way this situation affects both sides.

When I wrote a review of "Lone Survivor" recently, I got some angry reactions from people upset that I didn't like the movie and that I questioned the value of the mission depicted in the film. One of the oddest cognitive disconnects possible is when someone tells you to shut up and keep your opinion to yourself because soldiers are fighting for your freedom. Never mind the fact that stifling an opinion you don't like runs entirely counter to the notion of freedom. What really seems strange to me about that reaction is the idea that someone genuinely believes that my personal freedom is impacted one way or another by what happened to a handful of SEALs on a mountain in Afghanistan, or the notion that same freedom depends on the actions of soldiers in a military prison in Cuba. Whether Sattler wants his film to be political or not, it is, simply by virtue of the ideas it addresses. While I understand the hole that our government dug for itself with the detainees, I don't understand the utter lack of forward motion regarding what we're supposed to do with these people. At what point do we admit that our security theater has been unsuccessful, and how do we even begin to address the mistakes we've made regarding some of these people?

Slowly, a rapport develops between Cole and Ali, and both Stewart and Maadi do excellent work in the film. Maadi captures the rage and the helplessness and the struggle to maintain some semblance of sanity when locked in an insane situation with no end in sight. Stewart manages to etch a very empathetic portrait of a young woman who isn't completely comfortable with what she's being asked to do, and the obvious ambivalence she has towards her hometown that she escaped and the life she's signed up for make her the perfect guide for us through what is a very complicated moral landscape. Sattler wisely never tries to portray Ali as a complete innocent. The opening scenes with him are just quick enough, full of small details that are hard to sort out, that it's hard not to think that he was involved in something. But what? And when there's no trial and no push to learn anything from the people being detained, what's the point? For a country that spends so much time talking about the importance of freedom, we seem perfectly content to deny that to people over vague possible wrongdoing, and happy to have those people out of sight where we don't have to think about it.

Little by little, though, there are shifts in perception and moments of understanding and by the end of the film, there is something real that happens between them. There's no giant dramatic impossible conclusion built into the film by Sattler. He knows that this situation will keep rolling on for the foreseeable future, and that no one soldier and no one detainee will change that. But his film dares to suggest that the only true chance there is for any solution exists when we see each other as something more than labels and surfaces, an idea that evidently still terrifies many people on both sides of the equation.

Technical support is strong for Sattler on the film, and special note must be made of the work by Richard Wright, the film's production designer. He's done a great job of creating a Guantanamo Bay that feels real and functional instead of a movie set. The film is carefully shot, with a fine eye for detail, by James Laxton, and Jess Stroup's score offers fine emotional shading without hammering anything. The rest of the cast is also very good, with Lane Garrison in fine form as Corporal Ransdell, the Texas-bred roughneck who Cole answers to directly. I really like the way his character's written so he never tips into easy caricature, and John Carroll Lynch is equally good as Col. Drummond, the C.O. of the base. The film paints a frustrating picture of what it must be like to serve in the modern military in a bureaucratic position, but instead of casting the military as villains or heroes, it simply tries to capture the contradictions that drive most of their daily behaviors. There is a very deliberate pace to the film that may be intentional, but it still feels like it takes a while for the story to find its focus, which could be an issue for many viewers.

"Camp X-Ray" is going to be a hard commercial sell, but the film has a delicate human heart, and it is ultimately rewarding. I think it's a strong indication of what Stewart can do with the right material, and it makes a case for Maadi as one of the most interesting character actors working right now. Solid, small, and sincere, "Camp X-Ray" offers an important perspective to a difficult conversation.

•• Vanity Fair, Matt Patches: You likely have strong opinion on Kristen Stewart's acting abilities. The Twilight movies turned you way on or way off. Well, throw that perception out the window. In her new movie Camp X-Ray, Stewart plays a Guantanamo Bay guard who befriends an inmate. You read that correctly. While the movie takes a deliberately apolitical stance and clinical approach to depicting the malaise of Gitmo life, Stewart's brand of introverted, lip-biting naturalism adds a necessary warmth to the movie. Like her character, who retreats from life in Florida to whatever the army may provide, Camp X-Ray is Stewart shedding a skin and allowing herself to be tapped for talent. Director Peter Sattler finds a real person in Stewart, enveloping her in a reality that's more nurturing to her personality than Snow White fantasy lands. She wears her camouflage with a stone cold intensity, slowly breaking down when she opens up to a detainee (played by A Separation's Peyman Moaadi). The movie doesn't dig too far under the surface, but Stewart is a watchable pawn in the prison's mechanics. If you've written her off, realize you've under-appreciated her all this time.

•• Telegraph, Amber Wilkinson: Rating 3/5
Twilight star Kristen Stewart gives a solid performance as a Guantanamo Bay guard, but Peter Sattler's feature debut lacks punch

The macro-politics of Guantanamo Bay are kept firmly under lock and key in Peter Sattler's debut feature. He focuses instead on the human interaction between a recently arrived young guard, Private Cole (Kristen Stewart), and one of her detainees - to call them prisoners would be to contravene the Geneva Convention.

Stewart, who starred in the Twilight franchise, has sometimes been criticised for her stern facade but here it serves her well and makes her eventual descent into emotional territory more stark. Maadi effortlessly takes his character from gallows humour to anger and despair. Sattler does an impressive job of stitching unpleasant facts about Guantanamo into the narrative - from those tricky Convention semantics to Cole's discovery that the cell lights are never turned off at night.

He also shows how Cole becomes as captive and isolated as those she is guarding - in a nod to ongoing concerns about women in the US armed forces - but his soft-focus approach to this recruit with a heart of gold denies the film any lasting punch.

•• Examiner, Travis Hopson: Rating 3/5
It's easy to forget after years of watching her waste away in the Twilight franchise, but Kristen Stewart has always been a sure talent who walked to the beat of her own drum. More often than her detractors care to admit, Stewart has shown a maturity well beyond her years, and a ferocity that has made her perfect for playing strong, independent women with a bit of a an edge. That innate toughness makes her the perfect choice to play a defiant Guantanamo Bay prison guard in Peter Sattler's Camp X-Ray, a simplistic look at the military's inhumane treatment of detainees.

Capturing the boring repetition and minutiae of military life, so accurately depicted in Jarhead some years ago, Sattler shows that Gitmo is a prison that has ensnared far more than the detainees. At first Amy tries to fit in, swallowing her objections against the casual mistreatment of Ali and others. Despite being targeted for a disgusting "shit cocktail" hurled by Ali himself, Amy lets her guard down around him and finds they have far more in common than not. Conversely, she's punished and ostracized from the other soldiers after rejecting her superior's romantic advances, and faces further discipline after reporting him for a rules violation.

Exploring the tenuous position of females in the male-dominated military hierarchy could have taken the film to promising new areas, but Sattler instead focuses on the unlikely friendship between Amy and Ali. Yet still the lengthy conversations they have about all manner of subjects amount to absolutely nothing, and never come close to examining Ali's potential guilt. While there's an inherent loneliness that drives them together initially, Ali is never defined well enough to convincingly explain her deepening interest. This becomes especially problematic during an undercooked final exchange where their rival philosophies on justice are laid on the table. "What have you learned?" Ali repeatedly asks her, in an attempt to discover what it is that has drawn her to him. No answer is forthcoming, and Sattler seems unsure what truly binds these characters other than proximity and pity.

At the same time, Sattler has constructed a competently made film about people and empathy rather than Gitmo's real-life scandals. While terribly under-developed, flashes of poignancy occasionally illuminate Ali and Amy's growing friendship, aided by strong performances by the two leads. Dressed down in a way we've never seen her before, Stewart's riveting, tough and vulnerable performance may be the finest of her career. Maadi, who some may recall from Oscar-winning foreign film A Separation, is a whirlwind of rage, humor, and despair as the possibly-innocent Ali, who is faced with an uncertain future.

While flawed in execution, Camp X-Ray tells us traditional notions of good and evil no longer apply in a misguided place like Gitmo, and all who find themselves there are trapped behind walls of concrete and steel.

•• Buzzfeed, Kate Aurthur: To say Kristen Stewart is a reluctant celebrity would be a laughable understatement. Now shed of the Twilight movies and their accompanying publicity campaigns, she seems determined to become the actress she would have been if Bella (and Robert Pattinson) hadn’t come into her life. And in Peter Sattler’s new film Camp X-Ray, which had its high-profile (thanks to its star) premiere at Sundance on Friday, Stewart plays, of all things, a guard at Guantanamo Bay. And she is very good in it.

Stewart’s character, Cole, is a cypher at first: For most of the movie, we don’t know her first name, or anything about her. She comes to Guantanamo clearly determined to overcome any fear she has about being there, and to escape her life. She’s angry, stone-faced, energized by the prisoners’ agitations, and wanting to belong among her fellow military comrades. Lane Garrison, who is starting to make a career comeback after his imprisonment for vehicular homicide several years ago, plays Cole’s boss, a leeringly fratty corporal who hates the prisoners (or detainees, as they’re called to avoid abiding by the Geneva Conventions). There is one other female character in the movie, who’s more of a party girl, and we never hear her speak; the two women seem to think they have no reason to talk to each other.

The story’s thrust comes from Cole’s back-and-forths with Detainee 471 — played by Payman Maadi, who is both sinister and beguiling — who tells her his name is Ali. He is handsome, smart, and a good conversationalist; but he also throws shit at Cole. I suspect you will be hearing about Maadi and this role. Let’s hope the film industry can make way for him, and that he doesn’t always have to play a terrorist.

Or a possible terrorist. As we know from the real world, it’s unclear what the current incarcerations at Guantanamo have gotten us — and we also know that President Obama broke his promise to close the prison because no one can figure out what to do with the men inside. That thread of frustration and hopelessness runs through Camp X-Ray, which takes place eight years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

There’s a Harry Potter metaphor that runs through the film — about Snape — that symbolizes the Sundance movie’s powerful emotional impact and its symmetrically constructed narrative. But it’s also indicative of Camp X-Ray’s tendency to overreach sometimes. Ali begins his interactions with Cole by demanding the seventh and last book in the Harry Potter series; he says he knows it exists, never gets to read it, and needs to know whether Snape is a good guy or a bad guy. It’s the kind of framing that’s designed to pay off in a play-like screenplay like Sattler’s. And it does.

As Camp X-Ray’s story unfolds, and Cole begins to identify with and like Ali, the movie relies on what’s become Stewart’s signature awkwardness. And by the film’s end, Cole has transformed. If that’s Stewart’s goal as well, Camp X-Ray is an excellent start.

•• The Daily Beast, Marlow Stern: 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. The same goes for the elliptical machine hunger strike, which also comes off as tonally deficient, to say the least. Perhaps Sattler was taken by the story that hit the news a few years ago about a 48-year-old terror suspect who collapsed and died at Gitmo after using an elliptical.

In addition to the hunger strike, many of the scenes are lazily conceived, including the one where the asshole corporal gets a little too rough with Cole in a bathroom (who didn’t see that coming?), or scenes where Cole interacts with her only “friend” at the base, a guard named Rico who emits an incessant string of vacuous statements (“These detainees are crazy!”).

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. If this is evidence of what’s in store for us from a post-Twilight Stewart, which will also include an upcoming project with acclaimed French filmmaker Olivier Assayas, then her future is looking pretty bright.

•• Crave online, Fred Topel: Rating 4/10
There are several significant problems with Camp X-Ray.

In exploring the complex moral, political and military questions of Guantanamo, Camp X-Ray humanizes exactly one detainee. Just one, that’s all they got. And really you only see two detainees total, and the other is the raving “Death to America” type. We do hear other detainees in other cells cheering the crazy one on and cursing Cole. Make Ali the main character, fine, but if we’re going to tackle the issue of Guantanamo Bay, at least create some supporting characters who show other shades of the spectrum. The sheer casting of four main military characters and only two main detainee characters is a lack of balance, but even if I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to the confined world the film wants to create, you’ve already introduced the ADR device of hearing other detainees. You could at least use that to create the sound of some other personalities.

Camp X-Ray is so stuck on the basic idea that “things are not simple” that the big character moment is when Cole flat out says this place isn’t as black and white as they said. The dialogue can’t do any more than spell itself out for us. Really? Someone said Guantanamo detainees were all terrorists and you realized there’s more to it than good vs. evil? Welcome to the last 10 years of social discussion/media debate.

Stewart does enter the film biting her lip, which I state objectively just because I know you were all wondering. That’s the only time though. She keeps it real. You could still make a drinking game out of Camp X-Ray though. Drink every time Stewart is drenched in fluid, or expels her own. Drink every time the dumb guy doesn’t understand the subtleties of military protocols.

•• Gimme some oven, Sarah Magill: Camp X-Ray is an ambitious first feature by Peter Sattler with a gutsy performance by Kristen Stewart. Sattler hides big topics—Guantanamo Bay and moral surety (are you sure you’re one of the good guys?)—in small conversations between a green Gitmo guard (Kristen Stewart) and a talkative detainee (Payman Maadi of A Separation fame) who’s been locked up for eight years. This is not a sweeping political epic or a star-crossed love story. It’s a collection of moments between two very different people, some brutal, some beautiful, that add up to an unlikely friendship in a horrific place. Sattler appropriately called it “a small story about big things,” during the post-premiere Q&A.

Stewart does a fine job crafting soldier Cole’s hard shell…and letting it break at just the right times. Maadi is riveting as Ali, a man struggling to hold onto his dignity any way he can. Neither is a saint, but they struggle together toward something that looks a lot like good. It’s a human, everyday kind story. It mumbles a little, sometimes. Its running Harry Potter jokes are neither timely nor cool, just like most of real life. (Which made them all the more charming to me.) The climax was intimate in scale (no worlds hung in the balance) yet had deep moral implications for both characters. Again, just like in real life. Yes, in some places, the conversations go on too long. And I would’ve liked to have seen a little more of what motivated Cole to start opening up to Ali; perhaps that was clearer in some of the hundreds of scenes Sattler said he wrote that weren’t shot. But overall, I was moved by both the film’s intent and its sincere execution.

••, William Goss: Rating 6,6/10
“Azkaban? Is that an Arabic book?” One could be forgiven for thinking that Amy (Kristen Stewart) isn’t the best librarian in the world after giving such a response, and Ali (Peyman Moaadi) is certainly dismayed by her active disinterest. He’s been waiting for years to read the last book in the series, but no dice. What’s worse: she’s a guard at Guantanamo Bay, and he’s a detainee.

That bizarre meet-cute encapsulates the earnest strides made by Peter Sattler’s first feature, “Camp X-Ray,” to humanize both the soldiers who might go on to be involved in Abu Ghraib-like scandals and the suspected terrorists who may have been kept captive without just cause. As one character puts it: “There ain’t no ‘why’ in Army.”

When Amy arrives to Camp Delta, she doesn’t rock the boat. She makes her rounds, ensuring that detainees haven’t killed themselves or aren’t otherwise inciting trouble, and maintains a modest social presence off the clock. Sattler thrusts the audience right into the matter-of-fact procedural nature of the military — our lead, one of few female soldiers in the barracks, instinctively lowering the toilet seat is a nice touch — and following a few too many silent rounds, it’s unsurprising that Amy might indulge in idle chit-chat with the exceptionally sociable Ali.

While no saint, Ali stands out all too well among other anonymous, aggressive prisoners. He speaks English fairly well, went to university and is first seen returning a volume of Emily Dickinson poems before making his Hogwarts-minded pleas. Even though Amy instructs him to “cut the Hannibal Lecter sh*t” as his questioning grows increasingly personal, she can’t help but look into his files and make various inquiries, and it’s not long before Blondie (his nickname for her) is defying standard operating procedure in the name of basic human decency.

Noble? You bet. Romantic? Not quite. Sattler makes a recurring point of equating Amy’s own solitary existence with Ali’s cold cell — because hey, it’s like they’re both trapped by this single-minded pursuit of justice — or associating Muslim holy prayer with the all-American ritual of raising and saluting the flag. Thankfully, these two kindred spirits spark a mutual empathy which bolsters their shared scenes, meaning the two-hour-long film conversely suffers whenever Amy instead has to quietly bear the brunt of a gruff superior officer (Lane Garrison, sending off rapey vibes from the get-go, although we are spared a potentially tacky subplot; Kirby Dick’s “The Invisible War” has already proven to be a sobering document of such real-world offenses).

Moaadi was similarly angstful with his superb performance in “A Separation,” yet he is also often responsible for the film’s few moments of levity. However, Stewart is the star of the show, and for the first time since playing her daughter in “Panic Room,” the leading lady conveys the understated tenacity and vulnerability that has defined much of Jodie Foster’s career. With its painfully plain-spoken conflicts and eventually oversold gestures of kindness, “Camp X-Ray” may offer frustratingly little insight into the hazy world of wartime morality, but if nothing else, it suggests that Stewart may escape her own “Twilight”-shaped prison yet.

•• The Independent, Emma Jones: Critics who love to loathe Kristen Stewart will jeer that the actress has finally found an outlet for her trademark scowl: as a rookie US guard at Guantanamo Bay.

Ali’s humanity is all too evident from the start; Cole’s is revealed far more slowly.

But Moaadi’s excellence in these exchanges elevates Stewart: this is the best we’ve ever seen her. Nothing good awaits a guard and a captive who become friends, and the last scenes are seen through the fog of Cole’s tears.

•• The Salk Lake Tribune, Sean P. Means: Rating 3/5
Once you get past the obvious physical miscasting of the petite Kristen Stewart as a Guantanamo Bay MP, writer-director Peter Sattler's drama "Camp X-Ray" plays out as a thoughtful story of two people caught in a bad situation. Stewart plays Pfc. Amy Cole, assigned to Gitmo in 2009, and getting accustomed to the daily routine of tending to the detainees who have been locked up since 2001. Though she's warned not to get conversational with the detainees, she becomes intrigued with one, Alim (Payman Maadi, from "A Separation"), whose long record of outbursts belies an erudite soul who does sudoku puzzles and reads the Harry Potter books. Sattler uses the byplay between Amy and Alim to illustrate the gulf between two cultures, and the strong performances by Stewart and Maadi highlight the difference between what we think we know about "the other" and how they really are.

•• JoBlo, Chris Bumbray: Rating 7/10
A movie about Guantanamo Bay is sure to divide audiences. Now that CAMP X-RAY has premiered to mostly solid buzz at the Sundance film festival, you can expect it to stir up a ton of controversy once it gets released (a theatrical bow seems a certainty). It's sure to be a conversation starter, which- more than anything else- seems like the film's ultimate purpose.

At its heart, CAMP X-RAY is not an overtly political film in that it doesn't take any kind of clear political stance. Director Peter Sattler tries to tell his story in as balanced a way as possible, although considering the subject matter that's not always so easy. Certainly the film is not in favour of the Gitmo treatment, pointing out early-on that the people locked up there are called "detainees" rather than prisoners, as prisoners would have rights. Rather, the detainees exist in a kind of limbo, with the film focusing on one such detainee- played by Payman Maadi.

What's interesting about Sattler's use of the likable and charismatic Maadi here is that whether or not the character is in fact a terrorist or linked to Al-Queda is left ambiguous. The opening scene suggests that he is in fact linked with some kind of terror activity, being in the possession of dozens of disposable cell phones, all neatly and foreboding arranged on the kitchen table of his dingy apartment, while 9-11 footage plays on the TV in the background (one of the few times Sattler goes overboard spoon-feeding information to his audience). However, whether or not he's guilty is beside the point, with the idea here being that if he is in fact guilty, even being a prisoner would be better than existing in a sort of never ending limbo.

Compared to Maadi, Stewart's got the more pedestrian part. In the past she's been accused of being a somewhat flat screen-presence but here her initial apathy works well within the story, and her gradual enlightenment is well-played and never abrupt. Still, despite her getting the lion's share of the screen-time, she's clearly the less interesting half of the relationship, and while Stewart is fine, she's never dynamic.

Maybe part of the problem is that she has very little to do, with Maadi getting all the profound dialogue. A sub-plot involving her being harassed and bullied by a superior officer goes nowhere,and that conflict, which is given great importance early-on, is ignored in the final act.

While Stewart's part is a bit flat, Maadi's so strikingly good that the film can't help but stay compelling throughout. At times, CAMP X-RAY even manages to be thought-provoking, thanks to the always timely and distressing subject. This isn't a perfect film, but it's certainly a worthwhile one.

•• Tasctic film, Brian Perry: Camp X-Ray is a story about a young woman, Amy (portrayed by Kristen Stewart) as she enlists in the military to escape her small town. Leading her to a life as a guard in Guantanamo Bay.

Surrounded by cold walls and a monotonous daily routine interspersed with bursts of activity involving agitated prisoners, Amy slowly develops a relationship with one of the prisoners, Ali Amir (portrayed by Peyman Moaadi). The majority of Amy’s job is walking around the guantanamo cellblock looking in on each prisoner through a slotted window.

These sequences of the film are as impressive as they sound, with slow deliberate shots of the cold rectangular prison floor compiled with 8 prison cells. Prison guards meandering in a circle, peeking their heads into each window. This is a by design attempt to put us into that same mundane state that exists the majority of the time at Guantanamo. When Moaadi’s character, Ali Amir, attempts to strike up conversations with Amy, it appears that he’s going to try manipulate her for some benefit. If you’re thinking ‘Silence of the Lambs’, the filmmaker is way ahead of you as Amy, showing she won’t be pushed around, makes her own literal reference to the film during one brief conversation with Ali.

The film also lightly addresses the daily life amongst the guards within the cold steel walls of Guantanamo, with Late night drinking in a makeshift pub and gatherings in a cafeteria by day barely begin to lift their spirits while they count the days till their tour of duty is over. Not lost on us is the notion that the guards are in their own prison. Amy also has to deal with a sexually aggressive male guard, yet only briefly, as this point of the story is quickly glossed over. Overall only a limited number of the potential storylines, regarding military service, are touched upon.

Director Peter Sattler, the compelling Kristen Stewart and Peyman Moaadi take center stage and provide us with a glimpse into the complexities of human interaction between two people from opposite sides of an international conflict. The political debates surrounding Guantanamo were intentionally not addressed by Sattler throughout the film. Peter Sattler originally wanted this film at its core to be about a relationship between two people in an unlikely setting. Any direct references to Guantanamo are found in the painstaking details Sattler researched to provide as realistic an experience as possible of the life inside that elusive world of Guantanamo.

I first had reservations about seeing Kristen Stewart portraying a military guard, usually outside her usual acting roles. Although, she proved me and the Sundance Film Festival critics wrong as she is immensely convincing in her role as a small town woman wanting to make something of her life inside the military. Hopefully this role will squash some of her naysayers regarding her previous ‘twilight’ and comedic romance indie roles and open up more challenging portraits for her future productions. Peyman Moaadi also performs great as an accused terrorist, whose innocence remains a lingering question throughout. Moaadi garners our attention while he tries to befriend Kristen Stewart as she patrols by his window day after day. By the end of the film, we learn how connected the relationship is between them.

I feel that during next year’s award season we’ll be at least be talking about Camp X-Ray as a possible contender at the Independent Spirit Awards, similar to this years Academy Award nominated Fruitvale Station which also premiered at Sundance.

•• Twitch, Jason Gorber: I was busy processing the ending of Camp X-Ray, a film about a soldier relating to prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, when I saw the credit - Executive Produced by David Gordon Green.

It's hard to say just what effect this great filmmaker had on Peter Sattler's film, but it did lead me to think a little harder about it than I might have otherwise. And I've concluded it just might be a very good film, almost a great one, if you buy one thing - its protagonist is an idiot.

Now, this will be a bit spoilery, but you'll forgive me, as the ending of the film may either ruin it or make it something kind of great. Before we get to that, let me state unequivocally that Kristen Stewart is perfectly cast in this film. She's always had some hard features, and her role as a small-town Army girl thrust into the moral quagmire of Gitmo is played to near perfection.

Stewart provides just the right mix of toughness and fragility, and she's entirely believable in her role. She spends the best part of the film in a kind of battle of wits with the imprisoned Ali Amir, played with scene-stealing brashness by A Separation's Peyman Moaadi.

Through the film, we see the kind of transformation we expect, the humanizing factor that occurs when the prisoner begins to feel that most critical of emotions, empathy, towards their captor. There are moments of humour mixed with despair, sometimes over something as simple as the latest volume of a Harry Potter novel.

It's in these deft little moments that Sattler's script leads the audience, too, to share empathy with all involved - the supreme boredom and repetition shared by both jailer and jailed. This is an ecosystem, a sort of penal coral reef where each organism plays its role.

Which leads us to the most morally unsettling part of the film, its conclusion (and, again, this spoils the ending). If we're to read it on face value, Amy gives Ali the book with the inscription, finally seeing him not as a war criminal but as "a good guy". She's gone from small-town, small minded Floridian to one who can see the unfairness and cruelty of the imprisonment, and no doubt believes unequivocally that the imprisonment of Ali is both unfair and unjust.

Except, of course, both she, and we, don't know that. The most effective part of the film is when Ali is playing what Amy calls "that Hannibal Lecter" shit. We don't know what Ali has done, we only know that he has fought back against his imprisonment in a way that we all can find something heroic in that behavior, regardless of his circumstance. Yet is he a murderer? Are we to believe his claims that his interrogators find him to have done nothing wrong, that he is the lion that can no longer be led back to the wild?

We don't know, and in many ways the film is best when these answers are left unanswered, when the morality of the situation is shown to be entirely grey. Yet for Amy, she's made up her mind, and I feel that kind of catharsis will equally sway most audiences.

xcept, of course, she could be seen as completely wrong. For Ali, as are we all are, are free from neither good nor evil deed. The simplistic binary that Amy is working on is simply a knee-jerk flip-flop from her previous point of view. She's gone in as a small town, small minded soldier and in some ways has left the same, having been gamed by an intellect clearly superior to her own.

It's an odd thing to have a protagonist outwitted in such a way - Clarice after all stood always one step ahead of Hannibal - but it's perhaps to this film's great credit that this film may provide a moment of catharsis that itself is even more unsettling. And just as when I thought I might be reading too much into this film, maybe giving it too much credit, I saw David Gordon Green's name up there. And then I thought, perhaps, I might not be reading enough into the film.

As an exercise in drama with some powerful performances, Camp X-Ray is a remarkable film. As a straight ahead feel-good outcome, it's problematic on face value, yet extremely deep if my reading is correct. I can't claim to know what the filmmakers had in mind, but I choose to believe that the fatuous line written in the book is so over the top, so telegraphed by earlier events that it's meant to clue in audiences that, hey, this girl's still not getting it.

As a work of moral ambivalence, it's extremely interesting. As a jingoistic apology for imprisonment, it's flawed. I choose to believe based on the pedigree of those involved that my former reading is both the more interesting and the more accurate analysis of the film.

•• Young Adult Hollywood, Angie Veach: Cole (Kristen Stewart) joined the military because she wanted to escape her boring small town life and “do something to help” after 9/11. However, her first duty station at Guantanamo Bay guarding “detainees” soon causes her to question personal beliefs and ethics.

There are underlying political implications but the main focus of the movie is the interaction between Cole and Ali (Peyman Maadi) one of the detainees. They verbally spar with each other about many issues and eventually form a friendship that will change their lives.

Some critics complained about the slow pacing in certain parts of the film but I’m a veteran and found it to be accurate to military life. I was also impressed with Kristen’s attention to small details especially saluting correctly.

This film is about finding compassion and humanity in the midst of an incredibly challenging situation. Kristen and Peyman give exceptionally strong and emotional performances and I was unable to stop thinking about their characters long after I left the theatre.

A woman in the balcony told us that she had been a guard in Baghdad and was surprised at how well the movie accurately portrayed her experience. She tearfully thanked Peter for making the movie so realistic. Peter was very touched by her comments and said it meant more to him than any critical acclaim.

I can definitely add this movie to the list of my favorite Kristen movies and now I’m also a fan of Peyman Maadi. Camp Xray is very thought provoking and compelling on many levels…go see it!

•• The Guardian, Xan Brooks: Rating 2/5
Camp X-Ray, the debut feature from writer-director Peter Sattler, is a platonic Romeo and Juliet tale in which the characters converse at length across the great divide, separated by wire-mesh glass or chain-link fence. If nothing else, 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. Sattler deserves credit for spotlighting the dehumanising conditions inside Guantanamo, where the detainees go insane in their cages and start throwing their faeces and making mischief in a desperate bid to keep the boredom at bay.

The performers, too, do the best they can. Moaadi (so good as the shifty dad in the A Separation) is suitably anguished as Ali, while Stewart copes well as his pensive prison guard, constantly trying to act more tough than she is. It's a role that reminds us what a fine performer she was in the likes of Into the Wild and Adventureland, before her turn as mopey Bella Swan steered her into a creative cul-de-sac.

I just wish the film had given her more to work with. Instead, the supporting players are little more than equal opportunity stereotypes (frothing Islamists; brutish grunts), while the dialogue is a clatter of cookie-cutter exposition, intent on telling us everything but explaining very little. Sattler's film leans on its actors too heavily. It heaps too many implausibilities upon their trembling shoulders. After an hour in Camp X-Ray, the strain starts to show.

•• Collider, Adam Chitwood: Rating C+
In Camp X-Ray, writer/director Peter Sattler attempts to chronicle life at Guantanamo Bay through the eyes of a young female private, played by Kristen Stewart. It’s touchy subject matter for sure, and though Guantanamo Bay has been no stranger to controversy, there are plenty of avenues worth exploring. While Camp X-Ray features a compelling central relationship between the aforementioned young private and a foreign detainee, it too often veers into melodrama or goes for the easy cliché, making for somewhat of a mixed bag.

There are a number of lengthy scenes between just Cole and Ali that are fantastic. The two actors have solid chemistry, and Moaadi brings an excellent balance of frustration, desperation, and anger to his character. However, when Sattler tries to show Cole interacting with her fellow soldiers and officers, things get dodgy.

The script veers into melodrama territory quite often, especially towards the beginning of the film when Sattler attempts to show the burgeoning bond between the new soldiers. Levity is fine, but cheesy jokes and tired clichés take away from the central conceit of the film, which raises far more interesting and difficult points. Because these detainees are suspected terrorists, does that mean they’ve forfeited their basic human rights? Is it moral to treat another human in an inhumane manner, no matter what they have done? When does punishment cross the line into torture, and is prolonged detention without explanation the ultimate form of torture? These are tough questions, and when Sattler chooses to linger on them the film excels, but when his focus turns to comradery or animosity amongst the soldiers, the film falters and feels more like a TV series on The CW.

That being said, Sattler proves to be a formidable talent behind the camera as he drums up plenty of impressive visuals throughout the film. The filmmaker is able to capture long dialogue scenes between Cole and Ali in a fluorescent-lit hallway with a mixture of immediacy and intimacy that keeps things from ever getting stale. Some of the tired tendencies from the other portions of the film occasionally bleed into the Cole/Ali scenes, especially when Sattler feels the need to lay a theme or idea on too thickly, but for the most part these remain the most engaging and impressive portions of the film.

Stewart is fine in the role of Cole, and while Moaadi brings a lot to the relationship of the two central characters, Stewart has a little trouble with some scenes that require more range than she’s able to portray. The actress falls back on biting her lip or looking frustrated one too many times, and while she’s solid in many scenes, there are a few where I found myself wondering what another actress could have brought to the role. Stewart is stretching herself, which is admirable, but she’s just not able to tap into the raw emotions that the character requires.

Though the script could do with less melodrama and more nuance, Camp X-Ray is compelling more often than not. Moaadi is excellent in the role of Ali, and he and Stewart are able to play off of each other quite well. The issues surrounding Guantanamo Bay would probably be better served by a more consistent script, and while Camp X-Ray never reaches its full potential with regards to further exploring those themes, it remains a mostly solid character drama.

•• Ruby Hornet, Geoff Henao: Rating 7/10
Guantanamo Bay still serves as a dark footnote in American history more than a decade after its establishment. Everything about the detention camp, from its mistreatment of its “detainees” to the very reason for its existence, is inhumane and utterly sickening. Camp X-Ray is about one specific camp, the titular Camp X-Ray, which served as a temporary detention center in the Guantanamo Bay. Writer/director Peter Sattler’s film attempts to humanize both guard and detainee alike.

Amy Cole (Kristen Stewart) is a recently-assigned rookie guard at Guantanamo Bay. While she’s cordial and friendly with the other guards, it’s with a Gitmo detainee, Ali (Peyman Moaadi), who Cole makes a real connection with. The relationship starts on a frosty tip, Cole the newcomer and Ali the years-long detainee. The dynamic of their friendship, as is made evident early on, revolves around this dichotomy between the two where their individual situations are more common than meets the eye.

Unfortunately, Camp X-Ray is bogged down by stereotypes, ranging from the power-hungry superior officer to the young, naive solder who inevitably falls in line. In a way, the shallow characterization of the supporting cast helps accentuate the focus on both Cole and Ali and their friendship. However, the emotional crux of the film relies on Stewart’s performance, which oftentimes showed the potential and range she displayed in Into the Wild, yet is unable to tap into here. When it comes time for Cole to move past her hardened soldier demeanor and show true human emotion, Stewart falters. Whether it was Sattler’s direction to keep Stewart reined in to maintain the aforementioned toughness, or simply Stewart’s inability to let go, it was hard to look past this one low scene in a film otherwise full of high praise for the actress.

Camp X-Ray doesn’t attempt to make much of a political statement, nor does it attempt to excuse the accusations of inhumane treatment that took place at Guantanamo Bay. What it does do, however, is explore a poignant, unlikely friendship between captor and captured, guard and detainee. Sattler, at times, holds audiences hands as he pontificates the similarities between Cole and Ali, which can be frustrating. However, strong performances by Moaadi and Stewart (the aforementioned scene notwithstanding) are enough to overlook the otherwise easy storytelling.

•• Show Buzz Daily, Mitch Salem: The Dramatic Competition at Sundance this year featured a pair of films that were largely built on duologues between two strong protagonists. Attention was mostly–and properly–focused on Whiplash, which ended up winning both of the Festival’s top prizes, but Peter Sattler’s CAMP X-RAY is also worthy of some note.

Camp X-Ray is set at Guantanamo Bay, and it doesn’t try to hide its opinion that the place is generally shameful, not just imprisoning men who may (or may not) be innocent with minimal due process, but mistreating them as well, using the technicality that they’re “detainees” and not “prisoners” to exempt them from the protections of the Geneva Convention. (At one point, an inmate who’s misbehaved is subjected to the “Frequent Flyer Program,” moved every 2 hours from one cell to another for several days in a row so that he can never sleep.) Mostly, though, those issues are kept in the background.

The main concern of the film is the relationship that very slowly builds between a new guard, Amy Cole (Kristen Stewart), and the prisoner Ali (Peyman Moaadi, who played the husband in A Separation). Ali is a somewhat unusual inmate, prior to his arrest a resident of Bremen, Germany, rather than the Middle East, and clearly well-educated–much more so, probably, than Cole. Ali is desperate for some kind of human connection after years isolated in a small room where the lights are never switched off, and he tries to reach out to his new guard by talking about books (he’s a Harry Potter fan); she’s suspicious and hostile, and he responds very badly to her refusal to interact. (Even Cole notes the Silence of the Lambs undercurrent when speaking to Ali through the small window of his cell.) Gradually, though, they find a sort of rapport and even trust.

Sattler plays fair: although Ali claims to be innocent, we never know for sure if he was a terrorist or not, or even what the details of his purported crimes are. We, like Cole, have to take Ali as possibly a very bad man, despite how charming he can be when he chooses. Naturally, a great deal of the film’s weight rests on the two stars. Stewart may not have the widest acting range in the world, but her aura of antsy discomfort and awkward intelligence work very well for Cole; she’s believable as an outwardly confident soldier who becomes increasingly distracted and rebellious as she learns more about the world she’s in. Moaadi has the much showier role, and he’s marvelous, both taunting and yearning as he fights his own sometimes violent bitterness and tries to forge a connection with a person who is technically his enemy.

The only substantial subplot deals with Cole having to cope with sexual harassment on the base, and although that’s obviously a real issue and not badly handled here, it feels somewhat out of place because the script is otherwise so spare that the events intrude on the main narrative. There’s also a certain level of sentimentality toward the end that doesn’t completely fit with what’s preceded it. Mostly, though, Sattler keeps effective control of his material, and he’s good not only with the actors but with their surroundings. In a film as confined as this, the technical credits are particularly important, and credit goes to cinematographer James Laxton and production designer Richard A. Wright (the latter often works with the director David Gordon Green, an Executive Producer of Camp X-Ray), who create a persuasively realistic yet oppressive atmosphere. Editor Geraud Brisson does a fine job keeping the lengthy conversation sequences from becoming monotonous with a variety of angles and shot lengths.

It’s a small film, but admirable for its integrity and craft.

•• Punch Drunk Critics: It's easy to forget after years of watching her waste away in the Twilight franchise, but Kristen Stewart has always been a sure talent who walked to the beat of her own drum. More often than her detractors care to admit, Stewart has shown a maturity well beyond her years, and a ferocity that has made her perfect for playing strong, independent women with a bit of a an edge. That innate toughness makes her the perfect choice to play a defiant Guantanamo Bay prison guard in Peter Sattler's Camp X-Ray, a simplistic look at the military's inhumane treatment of detainees.

Capturing the boring repetition and minutiae of military life, so accurately depicted in Jarhead some years ago, Sattler shows that Gitmo is a prison that has ensnared far more than the detainees. At first Amy tries to fit in, swallowing her objections against the casual mistreatment of Ali and others. Despite being targeted for a disgusting "shit cocktail" hurled by Ali himself, Amy lets her guard down around him and finds they have far more in common than not. Conversely, she's punished and ostracized from the other soldiers after rejecting her superior's romantic advances, and faces further discipline after reporting him for a rules violation.

Exploring the tenuous position of females in the male-dominated military hierarchy could have taken the film to promising new areas, but Sattler instead focuses on the unlikely friendship between Amy and Ali. Yet still the lengthy conversations they have about all manner of subjects amount to absolutely nothing, and never come close to examining Ali's potential guilt. While there's an inherent loneliness that drives them together initially, Ali is never defined well enough to convincingly explain her deepening interest. This becomes especially problematic during an undercooked final exchange where their rival philosophies on justice are laid on the table. "What have you learned?" Ali repeatedly asks her, in an attempt to discover what it is that has drawn her to him. No answer is forthcoming, and Sattler seems unsure what truly binds these characters other than proximity and pity.

At the same time, Sattler has constructed a competently made film about people and empathy rather than Gitmo's real-life scandals. While terribly under-developed, flashes of poignancy occasionally illuminate Ali and Amy's growing friendship, aided by strong performances by the two leads. Dressed down in a way we've never seen her before, Stewart's riveting, tough and vulnerable performance may be the finest of her career. Moadi, who some may recall from Oscar-winning foreign film A Separation, is a whirlwind of rage, humor, and despair as the possibly-innocent Ali, who is faced with an uncertain future.

While flawed in execution, Camp X-Ray tells us traditional notions of good and evil no longer apply in a misguided place like Gitmo, and all who find themselves there are trapped behind walls of concrete and steel.

•• Sundance TV, Eric Kohn: Before her gig in the TWILIGHT franchise turned Kristen Stewart into a global celebrity, she had already established herself as a noteworthy screen presence in much smaller projects, with her serious, distant gaze making her ideally positioned to play lost and frustrated young women. There’s a glimmer of that subdued talent in CAMP X-RAY, the debut feature of writer-director Peter Sattler that finds Stewart in the excessively unglamorous role of a Guantanamo Bay guard. Unfortunately, Sattler’s frustratingly on-the-nose screenplay — which finds Stewart’s character forming an unlikely bond with an uncooperative detainee (Peyman Moadi) — only succeeds at emphasizing her talent in an otherwise half-baked drama.

At first, however, CAMP X-RAY maintains a grave quality on par with the actress’ abilities, opening with the detainment of the aforementioned Muslim, Ali, who’s swiftly carted off to the prison camp in the wake of 9/11. A frantic montage following the orange-clad victims from land to sea and finally to their harsh new home immediately establishes the aura of despair that haunts the setting throughout. From there, Sattler introduces Amy (Stewart), a soft spoken new arrival adjusting to the fratty clique of soldiers that run the camp. Cinematographer James Laxton, whose credits include the similarly atmospheric MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY and THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER, captures the drab hallways and empty outdoor landscape with a delicacy that imbues the location with a nightmarish feel.

The whole thing is successfully eerie until the real plot takes hold: Tasked with delivering books to inmates in their barren cells, Amy is assailed by Ali, who playfully messes with her head — asking her countless questions about the books she has available, hounding her about the absence of the seventh Harry Potter tome from the Gitmo collection, and forcing her to read aloud his other options. The bizarre exchange establishes an inexact tone that never fully takes shape, with the new acquaintances’ relationship staggering uneasily between comedy and drama.

+ Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper talks about 'Camp X-Ray' & Kristen's performance
Audience reactions


RT @GingerHenny "Cole is a very challenging role for any actor. It doesn't have the easy material given to Paymon Maadi, which allows him to fill scenes with larger than life wisecracks. That said, Stewy nails it. She portrays the tension and stress of the situation with a combination of subtlety of expression, body language and terse utterances. She has the swagger of a physically confident combat soldier. Sattler gave insights into her demands on attention to detail, requiring the advice of a military advisor, which was plain to see in the way she marched, stood to attention or fiddled with her cap. Cole is not an intellectual, but is no dummy either and Stewy makes that compromise perfectly. You feel the small town girl struggling to come to terms with big questions. The crescendo of the final material scene shows the empathetic connection between the two main protagonists in the search for hope, and finally gives Kristen the ammo to show the depth of her range as a actress. It is truly touching moment - not a dry eye in the house.

Once again and the Oscar goes to....."

RT @impeccablelogic A touching film about justice.. "everyone deserves their day in court"

RT @DailyFilmDose Camp X-Ray, a comforting GITMO film and there's nothing wrong with that. Stewart/ Maadi are supremely watchable

RT @Mike_Doc Wow. Peyman Moaddi and Kristen Stewart KILL it in CAMP X-RAY. Greatness.

RT @adambenzine CAMP X-RAY was really good. Haters gonna hate on Stewart, but she's got talent

RT @bonniejstinson Kristen Stewart played her part beautifully. Clear emotion and inner conflict but not at all cliché. Camp X-Ray is a must see.

RT @LadyLambert17 Just cried my way through CAMP XRAY like a crazy person. So unexpected, so beautiful and thought-provoking. See it if you can.

RT @FourCM Great job Peter Sattler, Kristen Stewart, Payman Maadi. Camp X-Ray is a film everyone should see.

RT @Creatrixablaze: Camp X-ray was searing. The chemistry between Peyman Moaadi and Kristen Stewart is golden.

RT @victorianegri #CampXRay - really liked it. Kristen Stewart really surprised me.

RT @HISHAMTAWFIQ Just watched "camp X-ray" bravo bravo bravo

RT @grey603 #CampXRay was very good. Not what I was expecting. Acting was great.

RT @oh_benn CAMP XRAY = first favorite of the Fest. Strong work by KStew and, not to be hype-happy, but Payman Maadi deserves some Oscar buzz.