Zero to complain about

by Gazette Reporter

I AM not a man who believes that films, or any entertainment media, need to be scrutinised for political stance, gender representations or any other societal concerns.
Yes, there are some artists who like to pepper their work with their beliefs and opinions, but more often than not, they recognise that their first priority is to entertain.
Which is why I believe that Girls is just a very funny sit-com and not a building block of modern feminism and that maybe it’s okay to enjoy The Impossible without worrying about the colour of the leading family.
Which brings us to Zero Dark Thirty, another film which has become more than a film.
It has become a debating point in a US presidential election, a source of investigation by both the CIA and Department of Homeland Security (who both found that the film makers had not been given access to classified information) and the basis of an argument over the use of torture in war.
Personally, I don’t really care about any of that.
Yes, I believe that torture is abhorrent and the US needs to look at its own rules of engagement, but was I thinking about that during the much-discussed scenes in Zero Dark Thirty? Honestly, no.
Maybe I am missing the point and the film is designed to make you discuss and debate these things, but personally I watch feature films to be entertained, to be told a story.
I believe that documentaries do a better job of raising big issues and that researching a topic is much more valuable than basing an ideological position on what Kathryn Bigelow portrays on film.
The fact that it has been buried under all that argument has detracted from the fact that what we do have here is a very, very good film.
Based loosely on the story of the USA’s attempts to hunt down Osama Bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty is Bigelow’s follow up to her Oscar-winning war film, The Hurt Locker.
Where that film looked at modern warfare and modern warriors, Zero Dark looks at what it took to get the information on where Bin Laden was hiding acted upon.
Reteaming with Hurt Locker writer Mark Boal, Bigelow is in control from the off here, keeping a short leash on the audience, all false trails and slow sequences.
While the film is the subject of much debate about its politics, it actually doesn’t have any.
No political discussion is given to what to do with the intel at the spooks hands, merely that they must act on it.
Whereas most films about spying show the rock star elements of the job, Zero Dark Thirty shows the grinding boredom and repetition that is involved in gathering intel.
Not to say that the film is harmed for it by any stretch.
The whole thing is tied together so tightly that it is strengthened by the slower moments.
But, really, this is Jessica Chastain’s show and she revels in it.
Given the most freedom of her career by a director who clearly trusts her implicitly, she moves the story on with a frenzied energy and an immediacy that is perfectly measured.
After announcing her arrival over the last three years, this marks her as a true Hollywood star.

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