“Camp X-Ray” starring Kristen Stewart and Peyman Moaadi will be playing at Alamo Drafthouse – Mason Park in Houston starting today.
Pvt. Amy Cole (Kristen Stewart) is a soldier who, along with a group of other soldiers, is transferred to Guantanamo Bay where she monitors “detainees” and prevents them from shortening their sentence in any way imaginable. The job is extremely stressful for a variety of reasons including the disorderly and violent conduct of the detainees and her higher ups refusing to treat the inmates as actual people, but Amy never expects to find friendship at Camp Delta. Incarcerated in Guantanamo for eight years, Ali Amir (Peyman Moaadi) converses with Amy right from the start and the two become close because of it.
While “On the Road” showed an extremely provocative side of Kristen Stewart we had yet to see on film, “Camp X-Ray” allows Stewart to add a little depth to her repertoire. The California native will likely never be able to shake that dumbfounded glare that seems to always be cemented on her face, but Stewart tries her best to be strong and independent in the shoes of Pvt. Amy Cole and she’s surprisingly impressive. Cole works with a bunch of men since this isn’t an easy job for a woman, but she never quits and is always willing to step up.
It’s obviously a very tough first day for Amy since she’s overly rattled as soon as she arrives and is then punched in the face and spit on during her first shift. She takes it all in stride though and doesn’t miss a beat or pass up an opportunity to talk trash with the rest of the guys. Some tension develops between her and Cpl. “Randy” Ransdell (Lane Garrison) as Randy begins to make Amy’s life a living hell. Amy’s relationship with Ali doesn’t start on a high note either as they have an entire argument devoted to the last Harry Potter book and they share a “The Silence of the Lambs” moment Amy could have lived without.
The chemistry between Kristen Stewart and Peyman Moaadi is thought provoking. Nearly their entire friendship is separated by a door, a fence, or regulations; something is always standing in the way of the two of them just getting to know one another. The relationship that develops is purely platonic, but the mutual respect is overwhelming. After eight years, Ali is desperate for human interaction while Amy has a different way of thinking and feeling than her fellow soldiers. Compassion goes a long way and it culminates in a foreseeable yet still touching manner.
The opening of first time writer and director Peter Sattler’s dramatic film is completely and utterly absorbing. You’re introduced to Ali in his home as he’s praying and suddenly kidnapped. A powerful montage plays out showing Ali with his head and ears completely covered along with two men in the same predicament as they travel very far by air, sea, and land. There’s no dialogue as a straightforward but effectively haunting reverberating score echoes through your eardrums.
“Camp X-Ray” is the story of a tough, independent woman trying to prove herself who finds something that she wasn’t looking for, but is actually something very valuable for anyone who feels out of their element. Ali is cut off from the rest of the world in his tiny cell while Amy is a free woman and yet they still find themselves trapped in the same place. In a nasty, merciless world, a little act of kindness can go a long way. With phenomenal performances from Kristen Stewart and Peyman Moaadi, “Camp X-Ray” offers that hopeful ray of light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel.