Zero Dark Thirty2012
by Scott Mendelson
Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty (trailer) is a refreshing 'just the facts' procedural drama that maintains an almost allergic aversion to melodrama. The film is ice-cold throughout, maintaining an even-keeled approach to the decade-long manhunt for Osama Bin Laden, pausing only occasionally to acknowledge the aftermath of violence. At a glance, the film is basically the Jessica Chastain show, as she quickly becomes the center of the film and dominates the proceedings even when the focus shifts in the final thirty minutes. Hers is a dynamite movie star performance, one that is not only Oscar-worthy but will likely win her the statute in a few months time. The film surrounding her is an intense and often fascinating 'inside' look at both the 'dark side' and the mundane side of the would-be War on Terror. It's a nasty bit of business, and its matter-of-fact presentation of unsavory details could be read as an implicit endorsement, just as its climactic brutality denies you the catharsis you might be expecting. It merely exists to tell its story, not tell you how to feel about it.