[DVD] Film Review: Camp X-Ray


Meet Amy Cole. Still a small bud with no certain purpose in life, army private first class Amy Cole (Kristenmma9041 Stewart) is placed as a guard at Guantanamo Bay’s detention camp. Stuck behind impenetrable walls, it is here at Camp X-Ray where Cole slowly strikes an unlikely friendship with Ali (Peyman Moaddi), a detainee who detests her. As the months went on, her opinions about Ali change, and her convictions begin to falter — is this a good sign for a guard like her?

Director Peter Sattler had it all sketched out in his mind for CAMP X-RAY. With bold conviction, Sattler dares to confront viewers with a conscious look into the events post 9/11. While the story is not politically driven, and doesn’t involve the larger world beyond Camp X-Ray, this enables Sattler to focus on the secluded setting, and address a different perspective of Guantanamo Bay that we haven’t seen before. 

Operating from the director and screenwriter’s seat, Sattler has produced a film that boasts raw authenticity. From the mundane atmosphere to the daily operations of Guantanamo Bay, the details in this film are incredibly astute. Through Amy Cole’s eyes, it was interesting to see the world from her perspective in a vicarious manner. Not from a female’s point of view, but rather, an outsider who gets a close-up insight into what it is like behind closed walls.

For a friendship to be formed in such disturbing context, we are transfixed by the emotional connection that is developed between two different people — Ali and Amy — something that we normally don’t see represented in political war films.

This is one difficult test for Amy Cole, mentally and emotionally. screenshot_8_32363Stuck in the middle of the almost seemingly corrupted island of Guantanamo Bay, Cole is forced to cast away her emotions and abide the authority’s rules. 

Up against the compelling detainee Ali who is constantly piercing Cole’s shell with his anguish and words of reasoning, Moaadi’s performance is exceptionally Oscar-worthy.

screenshot_4_32359However, all eyes are on Stewart as we are intrigued by her response towards Moaddi’s provocative performance. For those who are not accustomed to Stewart’s portfolio, Stewart is best known for her indie films that offer her the freedom to experiment with roles. This particular role of Amy Cole proves that Stewart is not afraid to go against the grain as she boldly takes on roles that many of her peers don’t sign up for.

In order to settle into the morbid setting, it was up to Stewart to portray a newbie prison guard that is more tough screenshot_1_32356
and resilient than she seems. An expert at displaying fluctuating facial expressions, Stewart’s layered portrayal reminds us that she is a complex performer who likes to be challenged, as seen in other films such as Into the Wild and Adventureland.

Overall: CAMP X-RAY offers an insightful exploration of the infamous Guantanamo Bay. Although the film could have been more powerful if it involved the larger world, we appreciate the film’s efforts of focusing on its two main characters, Ali and Amy Cole, and their blossoming friendship. Camp X-Ray is a powerful film that will leave you thinking about today’s current political situation, and whether humanity still exists.  

Rating: 8/10 

CAMP X-RAY is now out on DVD. You can view more info on Madman Entertainment’s site [here]

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