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New Release Review - CAMP X-RAY (DVD)

In Guantanamo Bay, a prison guard strikes up a friendship with a detainee.



Review by Emily Craig (@emillycraig)

Directed by: Peter Sattler

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Peyman Moaadi, Lane Garrison



Camp X-Ray is a perfect example of a film in which the acting is much stronger than the movie itself. I loved the fact it shows the point of view of a female soldier, but the writing and escalation of the plot lets it down.


Graphic designer Peter Sattler (Walk the Line, Star Trek) takes his turn at directing with prison film Camp X-Ray, starring Kristen Stewart (The Twilight Saga, Still Alice) as Amy Cole, a soldier assigned to Guantanamo Bay who sparks an unusual friendship with a detainee named Ali (Peyman Moaadi), who has been imprisoned there for eight years.
Cole and some other soldiers are assigned to look after the detainees, having to peep in the always lit cell blocks constantly to make sure detainees don’t commit suicide, giving the inmates no privacy whatsoever. The theme of privacy is really strong in the film when showing the dehumanising routines of the prisoners. When Cole is doing the book round, Ali sparks up a conversation about the final Harry Potter book, which he has been wanting to read for years (spoiler alert: it’s pretty predictable, at least it was for me, anyway, that at some point in the film Cole is going to give him the final book). This conversation is how their friendship starts, though to begin with, Cole is quite hostile and neutral to the inmate. Usually I find Kristen Stewart to be very dull and bland in her performances, but her facial expressions actually worked well in this film.
The acting from the two leads is outstanding, from Stewart’s intricate facial expressions to Moaadi’s strong determination. There comes a point in the film however where you only care about the two leads, and other characters - for example Ransell (Lane Garrison), who is Cole’s superior - become irrelevant and whatever storyline involved them ends up demolished. Some of the scenes in the film really pulled on my heartstrings and I longed for the relationship between Cole and Ali to blossom into something special, but it never really does; there were really lovely moments between the two in the film, but when I felt like their friendship was finally getting somewhere it was put to a stop. There could have been so much more from this film; it never gets as dramatic as I feel it should have, and believe me it could have gone that way, but it was always one step behind where I wanted it to be.
Camp X-Ray is a perfect example of a film in which the acting is much stronger than the movie itself; the editing, cinematography and overall feel of the film are spot on, and I loved the fact it shows the point of view of a female soldier, but the writing and escalation of the plot lets it down.
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