Survivors of most ordeals usually point to a common thread that gets them out of the darkness and back to the light of day; staying connected to something outside the situation and with yourself.

Rosewater, the debut effort of Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) as a Screenwriter and Director for feature film is a compelling and rewarding watch. Rosewater presents the story of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari’s detainment by the Iranian Government.

Rosewater is not a big production effort or an extension of Stewart’s comedic Daily Show persona. Rosewater is a small film with understated direction, solid dialogue and settings combined with a number of superb acting performances.  Rosewater is far from perfect. Bobby Bukowski’s cinematography produces a result that while adequate, feels a bit more television/HD Video, and not nearly a match to the rest of the film in terms of impact and effect.

Gael Garcia Bernal (Y Tu Mamá También, Motorcycle Diaries, Bad Education) is simply outstanding as the reserved, yet personable Bahari.  He is portrayed as a person who for the most part plays observer and desires to remain one.  A key theme of Rosewater is observer’s like Bahari will be penalized for being one.

The onscreen chemistry between Bahari – The Detainee with his capture’s and the spirit’s of his deceased father and deceased sister is what makes Rosewater shine.  Kim Bodina (as Rosewater the interrogator) provides as fine a supporting performance as any film for 2014.  The film Rosewater allows us to see a variety of dimensions of Rosewater the character – including lack of self confidence, anger, fear, unwitting subject of duplicity and, even desire to receive professional approval.  Bodina nails it on all of them. Haluk Bilginer as father – Baba Akbar and Golsifteh Farahhani as sister – Maryam provide excellent performances.  Both performances help with the overall success of Rosewater as these roles are key ingredients to understanding Bahari’s dilemma and salvation.

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