Kristen Stewart delivers a captivating performance in CAMP X-RAY, as a soldier assigned to guard detainees in a Guantanamo-style facility. Her character forms an unlikely relationship with one of the prisoners, played brilliantly by Peyman Moaadi (from A SEPARATION).
This character study explores some heavy themes but never gets heavy-handed. CAMP X-RAY is a focused movie about how imprisoned both of these characters feel. This self-contained story is refreshingly small. By focusing on characters, thematic exploration is much richer and fuller .
The direction is also paired down, but striking. Extremely effective framing switches our point of view from Stewart’s to Moaadi’s. Looking through his cell, Stewart clearly seems like the detainee in this scenario. She’s following her orders, imprisoned by duty. No matter what she feels for this person, she is constantly reminded to sweep those feelings aside and follow protocol.
Peyman Moaadi as the detainee delivers an award worthy performance. If he doesn’t win over the audience, this movie falls apart. If we can’t relate to him or empathize this story echoes hollow. He masterfully swings from curiosity, hatred, disgust, humility, and charm.
Some lighter moments involve his desire to finish off the Harry Potter series. The fixed library will not add any new books. He’s been imprisoned for nearly a decade, but he feels this is the cruelest form of punishment. He just wants to find out how this epic series concludes.
Kristen Stewart smolders with subtlety. She received a lot of criticism for her involvement in the TWILIGHT franchise; however, Stewart has been quite compelling in several roles like RUNAWAYS, ON THE ROAD, and ADVENTURELAND.
Her work here feels the most personal and weighted. You can really feel her character here. She invites you to step into her skin.
This deliberately paced character drama is well worth watching. Stewart is completely electric. Moaadi is totally captivating. The calm and deliberate direction amplifies emotion and theme. CAMP X-RAY is an important film with careful social commentary.
The larger picture also shows how other soldiers react to their assignment, and how detainees develop their own culture behind bars. The main draw is seeing these two super talented actors explore rich thematic material. It’s not as artsy as it may sound.
This is an indie you don’t want to slip/through the cracks. Watch it on demand, or Netflix tonight.
(this / rating = 4 of 5)
What do you think?
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What do you think of Kristen Stewart? Do you want to see her in more dramatic roles?