Sundance Review: Camp X- Ray


Director:Peter Sattler

Cast:Kristen Stewart,Yousuf Azami, Tara Holt

Running Time:117 Minutes


Camp X-Ray is a gripping story about a new army recruit by the name of Amy Cole, played by Kristin Stewart, sent to Guantanamo Bay where she becomes a glorified baby sitter of sorts for the detainees held captive there. She perfects the art of turning left, learns how to clean up human feces splattered like a Jackson Pollock painting across the cell walls, and, just like high school, has to pick what shitty meal and people to sit with during lunch break.

With all of this, Cole has a quiet determination within her and wants to make a difference in the world. On the job, Cole keeps to herself, only confiding in her mother for solace at nights over Skype. Distant from the other recruits, she forms an unlikely relationship or, better yet, more of an understanding with one of the detainees named Ali, played wonderfully by Payman Maadi, who has been there for 8 years. He professes his innocence and, out of all of the detainees, Ali seems to have the most personality and conversational etiquette.  During book checkout, he bickers and hassles the guards, asking them personal questions, what their favorite book is, more importantly why the guards haven't purchased the 7th Harry Potter book. He has energy unlike the other detainees, wanting to learn, to understand and, above all, wanting to get his life back. He grows a liking to Cole referring to her as "Blondie" and begins to share a unique bond with her as they both struggle with isolation and loneliness.

Written and directed by first timer, Peter Sattler, Camp X-Ray, is more of a fly on the wall approach to the Guantanamo Bay situation. Bringing a slice of life about two people yearning to live. Coupled with a hypnotic score and sharp script, Sattler strikes all the right chords here and delivers an excellent film about the human condition and being understood without labels.


About Matt Kerwin

Matt Kerwin

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