Yet another apparently great movie adds itself to the list with Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s film on the hunt for Bin Laden. Brooks Barnes at the NY Times has seen it, and includes some commentary in his interview with the Oscar winning team of Bigelow and screenwriter Marc Boal. It looks to be up to Bigelow’s preferred level of intensity, and will likely stand out among the other feelgood fare this year. Whose bringing the cojones? Bigelow’s bringing the cojones. There is something thrilling in that:
The new movie is not for the faint of heart or for those expecting typical Hollywood fare. Whether “Zero Dark Thirty” succeeds may depend on the willingness of audience members (and awards voters) to relive difficult events in a drama that Ms. Bigelow and Mr. Boal insist should honor the facts and protect sources, even if that means giving less attention to cinematic conventions like a love interest, comic twists (à la “Argo”) or characters’ back stories.
Perhaps more startling than Mr. Obama’s absence — nothing here about a “gutsy call” — is the decision to focus on a young woman who is portrayed as persisting for years in the pursuit when higher-ranking, more powerful and better-armed men around her were failing, lazy or clueless.
“For her, for our character, that’s how it felt,” Ms. Bigelow said. “She felt like she was battling all sides.”
Mr. Boal added that the story could have been told with as much validity through others who had participated.
“When you decide to tell the story through a specific person’s eyes, it defines what you see,” Mr. Boal said. As he and Ms. Bigelow prepare to meet Hollywood’s awards voters in the inevitable crash round of appearances — Oscar nomination voting begins on Dec. 17, and few here have seen the film — they are recovering from the rigors of a compressed filmmaking process that began this year and ended only five days ago, when she finished final touches.
Along the way, they were reported to have been harassed by rioters on a set in India, where protesters objected to their having dressed a largely Hindu district with Muslim-related signage. But the disturbance, the filmmakers said, was smaller than reported and quickly ended, a riot made for television news cameras and little more. Since then, they said, there have been no security threats of note.
I will be seeing Zero Dark Thirty tomorrow, Sunday, and will report back.