Rosewater is the true story of Iranian Journalist Maziar Bahari who was jailed as a spy, for skit on The Daily Show. In 2009, The Daily Show’s Jason Jones was in Terhan filming a comedy skit. Jason Jones sat in a cafe and pretended to be an American spy who was openly asking random Iranian citizens to reveal State secrets. The joke was supposed to be about how inept and amateurish the CIA is.
Maziar Bahari was an Iranian citizen working for Newsweek magazine. He happened to be at the same cafe, and appeared in The Daily Show skit as a joke. Little did he know that this would land him in jail charged with treason.
The Iranian authorities already had their eyes on Maziar Bahari. He had filmed the riots that had occurred when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected President of Iran. Many people considered this election a fraud, and large violent riots occurred. Maziar Bahari had filmed the riots and sent the pictures out to the world.
Most of Rosewater takes place in the Iranian prison and is the interaction between Maziar, and the man interrogating him. We never learn the interrogator’s name. Maziar thinks of him as “Rosewater”, since the man constantly wears rosewater cologne.
Rosewater is a fascinating movie and the acting is superb. Even if you know nothing about Iranian politics, it is a terrific psychological prison drama. Gael Garcia Bernal plays Maziar Bahari and is perfect in the role.
At first Maziar believes his imprisonment is just a misunderstanding, and that he will quickly be able to explain the truth and then be let free. When Rosewater shows Maziar the tape of Maziar talking to American “spy” Jason Jones, Maziar laughs and explains it is just a comedy show. Then he slowly comes to realize that the Iranian authorities do not see anything as a joke, and that Maziar could be in prison for life.
Kim Bodnia is” Rosewater”, the interrogator. Rosewater does not think of himself as a cruel or evil man. He truly believes himself to be an Iranian patriot protecting the country from dangerous outsiders. He does not physically torture Maziar, and even gives him fruit and tea.
The worst part of the imprisonment is that Maziar is kept in solitary confinement and blindfolded for most of the day. In his mind he begins to have conversations with his deceased father (played by Haluk Bilginer) and sister (played by Golshifeth Farahani).
Unbeknownst to Maziar, huge international pressure was being put on Iran to release him. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hammered the issue over and over again and simply would not let the world forget about Maziar Bahari. The world also fell in love with Maziar’s beautiful pregnant English wife Paola (played by Claire Foy).
Rosewater was written and directed by Jon Stewart, who felt terrible that a joke on his show ended up getting a man imprisoned. John Stewart and Executive producer Catherine Farrell made Rosewater a fascinating film that focuses on the human side, rather than becoming too preachy or political.
- We give Rosewater our highest rating of Five Stars *****
- See our review of Children of Heaven, a story of ordinary kids in Iran
- Read the true story When Nassar Threw The Jews Out Of Egypt.
- Read about Iranian Actress Golshifeth Farahani
- read our review of the award winning Iranian film A Separation.