When Jon Stewart took a leave of absence last summer for a few months, for some reason I didn’t inquire why. Not being a routine watcher of The Daily Show, it didn’t affect my nightly schedule at all. But then came Fall of this year and the name Rosewater was not circulating in a buzz, but rather being mentioned delicately here and there, like incipient raindrops.
In my own circle of consorts, a little bit of a murmur rose up as trailers and reviews starting emerging, and the question didn’t take long to surface: Is this film getting attention because Jon Stewart made it?
Well, perhaps. But that’s okay.
Before that question comes another though: why would a popular late-show host like Jon Stewart all of a sudden make a film? At first it may sound sensationalist, this endeavour of his, but the film cures the misconception.
I went in not knowing much about its background story. I learned that it was based on a memoir and that part of the reason he made it was because a segment from his show was used as evidence toward the young man who was arrested as a suspect. And he felt responsibility to continue the efforts to bring attention to the incident.
And that’s where I think the film deserves attention, because it is Jon Stewart. My boss recommended a book to me months ago called Snow Drops, and mentioned how tightly it’s written, specifically because it was written by a journalist. Similarly, Jon Stewart is a television personality, but he’s also a witty, intellectual, and one of the few celebrities to take a stand on certain current affairs of the world. So if he’s making a film, I’m interested in what he has to say and how he says it.
Not to paint things in sugar, but I do think it was a great undertaking. Hundreds of films have been made about these kind of topics, often in the same country at hand, but there was something new and refreshing. He made some great decisions in showing positives in the film, in the score that was chosen, in the beautiful way the film began, in the omission of visual violence and torture, in the inclusion of a very unique wit to the film, in carefully purging common stereotypes that come while depicting other regions of the world.
The other reason that it’s okay if this movie gets attention because “Jon Stewart” made it is because he’s already well-known, without a reason to fish out new ways to gain popularity. The fact that he left his already successful show to do this speaks of individuality, taking a chance, stepping out of your routine and listening to your heart.