|Maziar Bahari <--> Jon Stewart|
It turns out that back in 2009, when Iran was embroiled in the reelection campaign of Ahmadineijad as President of Iran, the "election" was marked by fraud, and Maziar Bahari, an Iranian/Canadian, had gone there to cover the election for Newsweek. While there, Jason Jones, from The Daily Show, interviewed Bahari for a comedy segment aired on the show. Jones called himself a spy and accused Bahari of being a terrorist. It was funny, but when the Iranian authorities saw it, they took Bahari off to jail and threw him in solitary confinement until he would admit to his crimes.
Stewart must have felt pretty awful about being part of the reason for his imprisonment, and I remember during the four months that Bahari was incarcerated, Stewart mentioned it almost every day on his show. When Bahari wrote a book (which I have on order from my local library) about the experience entitled Then They Came for Me: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity and Survival, Stewart decided to write a a screenplay based on the book and direct it himself.
I loved the movie. The main part is about Bahari's imprisonment and interaction with his interrogator, whom he called "Rosewater" because of the scent he wore. Since Bahari was blindfolded much of the time, he recognized the man by his smell. The actor who plays Bahari is actually a Mexican actor (Garcia Bernal), and although most of the dialogue is in accented English, I didn't find this to be a problem. The story was much more about how to stay sane when enduring psychological (and sometimes physical) torture. Richard Corliss of Time Magazine said it perfectly for me:
Though not really a comedy, Rosewater is a demonstration of the creed behind The Daily Show: belief in the crucial need for impious wit against entrenched power. The freedom of the press is also the freedom to depress, and to inspire. That’s a message that can outlive any Oscar season. It would be nice if it could also overcome any regime.It is a really good movie. I hope you go see it.