Two key reviews have emerged on the latest Kathryn Bigelow film, Zero Dark Thirty, which sounds gritty, immersive and exceptional. Because she and screenwriter Marc Boal were constantly dogged by the continual and ultimately ineffectual right wingers, they’ve had to eliminate all references to President Obama. Major props to Harvey Weinstein for making what was an Obama infomercial, or super PAC, with SEAL Team Six to counteract that ridiculous farce, Obama’s America 2016, but clearly Bigelow and Boal were going for a different kind of film. McCarthy:
As it has emerged instead, it could well be the most impressive film Bigelow has made, as well as possibly her most personal, as one keenly feels the drive of the filmmaker channeled through the intensity of Maya’s character. The film’s power steadily and relentlessly builds over its long course, to a point that is terrifically imposing and unshakable.
Chastain carries the film in a way she’s never been asked to do before. Denied the opportunity to provide psychological and emotional details for Maya, she nonetheless creates a character that proves indelible and deeply felt. The entire cast works in a realistic vein to fine effect.
Similarly, all the technical contributions are put at the service of full verisimilitude. Locations in Jordan and India fill in beautifully for Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.
TIME’s Richard Corliss calls Zero Dark Thirty a “damn fine” film and closes out his review:
With the dense dialogue spread across more than 100 speaking roles, the supporting actors could be mere information carriers, but many make excellent use of their limited screen time: Clarke as the hard-case interrogator with a Ph.D., Kateb as his victim-informer, Kyle Chandler as Maya’s suave, cautious station boss, Jennifer Ehle as a warm, seen-it-all field agent and Edgar Ramirez as an operative who tracks bin Laden on an edgy ride through Islamabad. Chastain takes a while to grow into Maya’s skin, but her tentativeness in the early scenes may be an accurate depiction of a young woman just out of college, enduring the growing pains of a difficult matriculation in a killer job.
As a bright young woman driven to bring down an al Qaeda terrorist, Maya shares aspects of Claire Danes’s Carrie Mathison in the Showtime series Homeland, but she lacks Carrie’s defining neuroses — or much other personal biography. What are Maya’s political beliefs? Who are her family and friends back home? Does she have a sex life? Doesn’t matter: she is her job. In a way, Maya is the CIA equivalent of Bigelow: a strong woman who has mastered a man’s game
I will be seeing the film later today. I will try to not chew furniture with excitement until then.