Film & TV



Leanne Dixon reviews Zero Dark Thirty.


DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow

STARRING: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Jennifer Ehle


The history-making Bigelow returns to fill the big screen with more controversial and gripping entertainment. Zero Dark Thirty follows the ten-year manhunt of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, from 9/11 to his death.

The narrative centres around driven intelligence analyst Maya, as whom Chastain gives her most potent performance to date. Chastain amalgamates stern relentlessness with realistic portrayals of emotion. In a profession dominated by males, Maya’s resilience throughout marks a compelling female protagonist, single-mindedly dedicated to finding Bin Laden. Complimented by Jennifer Ehle’s intelligent representation, the pair imprint a female strength upon the film, akin to that of Clare Danes in Homeland.

Bigelow’s widely disputed torture scenes have been accused of condoning such forms of persecution. The ambiguity lies in whether or not the required information was gained solely from interrogation or whether other tactics attributed to Bin Laden’s death. If anything, the harrowing scenes affirm that torture is inhumane. Furthermore, they are an imperative inclusion in the film’s depiction of an honest account of events.

Mark Boal’s coherent, military influenced screenplay immerses the audience in the action, never alienating the viewers. Desplat displays his impressive versatility yet again, creating a score that illuminates the tension, if at times pre-empting certain action. He includes a fitting yet distinct theme, unusual for modern military films.

Bigelow’s remarkably crafted film is ultimately a riveting piece of cinema. The film is intelligently shot, making good use of close-up camera work. Its controversial interpretation questions the viewer’s moral standpoint, which can only be a good thing in cinemas filled with the dull macho-action of Transformers and Battleship. With solid performances and dialogue throughout, Zero Dark Thirty is definitely worthy of Oscar attention.

Leanne Rachael Dixon


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