Thursday, January 10, 2013
Mixed Signals on Zero Dark Thirty
For movie fans there is nothing better than sitting in a theater watching images come to life on the big screen. We've seen many films this year, and the most memorable are the ones that moved us in some way. With all of the rave reviews for Zero Dark Thirty which is based on the CIA's hunt for Osama bin Laden, I couldn't help but feel that there was something missing.
The movie has already received four Golden Globe nominations, and is sure to receive Oscar nods for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress; yet, instead of leaving the sold out theater cheering, I felt like some key scenes had been left on the cutting room floor. The special effects and action sequences were first rate, but there could have been more character development. Just when the young undercover CIA officer who devoted her life to tracking down terrorists divulged that she had been recruited straight out of high school, they moved onto the next scene.
I was hoping that there would be a back story explaining how she lost loved ones in 9/11, or was a gifted student of Arabic, but those were unanswered questions. Instead, the movie focused on her determination to capture bin Laden for ten years while sacrificing any kind of personal life in the process. This was no fault of Jessica Chastain who played the role brilliantly, but her portrayal would have had even more depth, had we learned about what led her on this career path.
Afterward, while my husband and our close friends raved about the movie, I shared my concerns. Then someone pointed out that it would be difficult to develop a multi-dimensional character in only two and a half hours, and I couldn't have disagreed more. I explained how some of the best sitcoms could make you laugh and cry in less than thirty minutes. I also mentioned how last year's Academy Award winning silent movie The Artist, made me run through the gambit of emotions without even uttering a word.
When I first heard about how the courageous Navy SEALs risked their lives to raid bin Laden's compound, I was overcome with joy, as were countless others who shared this great moment in history. Though the movie was visually stunning, and has received high accolades for director Kathryn Bigelow, who steps into war movies like a fearless general; I didn't get that jolt I was expecting.
As I write this, I realize that this may have been Bigelow's intention. The message that I may have been overlooking is that though this was a huge step in the right direction, things will never be the same for the victims of 9/11, and their families. While I was searching for answers, the true meaning of Zero Dark Thirty seems to have been written between the lines. Perhaps we were not supposed to feel satisfied, as we must continue to keep our guard up against all forms of terrorism.