Camp X-Ray: LFF Film Review

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Camp X-Ray is Kristen Stewart’s comeback film since Twilight and it is certainly an interesting piece to revamp her career. I hope this re-establishes her credibility, because she deserves it.

She stars as soldier Cole, who is assigned to Guantanamo Bay detention camp, where she is to patrol the halls and look after detainees who have been sent there for war crimes in the wake of 9/11. She strikes up a bond with Ali (Payman Maadi) who has lived there for years, and always maintains his innocence.

I really liked this because the time and effort were put in to make their bond feel natural over time. Their conversations were very basic in nature in the beginning, but so realistic. It wouldn’t make sense for them to become friends straight away and I wouldn’t necessarily call them ‘friends’, but they certainly have a bond/understanding for each other. I thought Maadi was superb. Despite the serious setting, he brings a lot of light to their conversations, such as talking about the Harry Potter books. Cole is reluctant at first but is finally worn down by his incessant questions.

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As they become better pals, she begins to question her assignment and identify with the inmates. She is constantly the outcast in her soldier group. I wish we had slightly more knowledge of her background and more nuance to her character but her evolution and that of their friendship was still fascinating to watch.

The film shied away from making a political statement but you could almost feel like the filmmaker was on the side of the detainee. You feel sorrier for him, and did not have so much sympathy for Cole. I thought Kristen’s acting was great and captivating, but very similar to her usual – glum, stuttering to get words out – manner. Still, I found this very moving and I enjoyed it a lot. I hope it gets a proper release.

I saw this as part of the London Film Festival. A general release has not yet been announced. 

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