In a word? “Whew!” In several words, read on.
I’ll admit that right off the bat, I was conflicted about whether or not I actually wanted to see Zero Dark Thirty.
One, it’s directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who also directed The Hurt Locker, which won way too many Oscars than it deserved. I am still holding on to the bitterness that the Hollywood politics delivered with those wins. Just because she is the antithesis to James Cameron and just because she made a controversial movie about war-related things does not mean she should take the cake. I gave it credit, but Avatar broke boundaries, delivered innovation and basically changed (accelerated) the movie industry forever.
Secondly, the movie stars Jessica Chastain. Jess is my new favorite female actress. She’s got a look that classic, covet-worthy and candid. She was in The Help as my favorite character. And she was in The Debt, which was one of my favorite surprise movies of 2010. I can’t help but want to see everything she’s in. Even The Tree of Life, which I still, to this day, can’t quite put my finger on.
Well, the fact that (of course) Ms. Bigelow snagged several Oscar nods meant it jumped onto my must-see list before February 24th. Plus, you have to admit that the fact that the trailer uses the tagline, “a film that defines a generation,” is mighty powerful. I was lured.
Well, that lure was worth it. This film rocked my socks off. I really did feel like I came out of a workout when it was over. My hair was raggedy, I was sweaty and I was panting from so much holding my breath. Seriously, this may be one of the most intense movies I’ve seen in awhile. In fact, I can’t actually bring to mind anything more intense right now.
The story itself is undeniably fascinating. In case you’re living under a rock, it’s the true story of how the CIA found and killed Osama Bin Ladin. Based on the 12+ years of (fake name because she is actually still an active CIA agent) Maya’s research on where he is, who works for him and how we can get him, it’s suspenseful, tragic, filled with ups and downs of hope and disappointment and seriously, seriously intense. It’s certainly not something you could watch twice (and if so, you should be in a CrossFit competition), but it’s something you cannot miss watching once.
Sure, it brings up a lot of questions. And the more time that passes between when I saw it and the present, the more I think I have. And certainly, the more I want to know about the backstory. I’m flabbergasted at how interesting this film was and feel a slight sense of pride for the people who can stomach to dig deep into the gory details of stories like this. And even more so for the real people that they’re about.
Chastain more than deserves her nod for Best Actress. I even give it to Bigelow that I would have given her the nod as well. I’m no longer going to be bitter about whatever wins it might take, but still curious to round out the screenings of the entire ballot.
Until then, make sure you see this one. And I look forward to hearing your thoughts as well.