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Camp X-Ray

Coming Soon

I think it is only fair to begin this review with an admission, a disclaimer of sorts, and that is there are very few actors or actresses whom I despise more than Kristen Stewart. I think she has the emotional range of an inanimate object, one facial expression that either indicates adolescent annoyance or extreme constipation. I just felt that you as a reader should know this.

Part of the reason I can’t stand Stewart is because of her portrayal of one of the weakest female protagonists in the history of fiction, Twilight’s Bella Swan.

Stewart plays Private First Class Amy Cole in first time director Peter Sadler’s Camp X-Ray. Small town girl Amy dreams of getting far away from her life in small town Florida life by joining the military, but ends up getting assigned to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp where she strikes up an unlikely bond with a detainee. She struggles to fit in with her fellow soldiers and she struggles to follow rules that make little sense to her. Truth be told, Stewart almost got me there. I bought her struggles and was almost along with her for the ride, but that whole teenage angst smirk just killed it for me every time.

The movie’s strength is in its philosophy. How far should one go to fit in? Does protecting your nation give you permission to do almost literally whatever you want to someone (even going so far as to call them detainees instead of prisoners so you don’t have to follow the Geneva convention)? Is someone’s behavior a result of his/her treatment, or the cause? How far should you go to try and do the right thing? Sadler, who along with directing, also penned the screenplay, was extremely ambitious in presenting these moral quandaries, but unfortunately fell short in its execution. Despite a decent performance by Stewart and Peyman Moaadi’s stellar portrayal of detainee 471, Ali Amir, I still found myself looking at my watch fairly often trying to calculate when my own sentence would be over.

Camp X-Ray is playing at Cinema Detroit, through November 13th.

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