Camp X-Ray (2014)

Camp X-Ray (2014)
  • Time: 117 min
  • Genre: Drama | War
  • Director: Peter Sattler
  • Cast: Kristen Stewart, Peyman Moaadi, John Carroll Lynch


A young soldier escapes her suffocating small town by joining the military, only to find that she isn’t going for a tour of duty in Iraq as she hoped. Instead, she’s sent to Guantanamo. Met with hatred and abuse from the men in her charge, she forges an odd friendship with a young man who has been imprisoned at Gitmo for eight years.

One comment

  • The least interesting movies usually make things black and white. This is our protagonist and here is the antagonist, we hope that protagonist will conquer the adversities and win over the antagonist who is painted as a bad evil doer. The things get interesting when director chooses to make us empathize with the antagonist which creates in a viewer an inner conflict. On one hand we want to support our protagonist, but when the circumstances create the environment where it is hard to not empathize with our antagonist thats when we feel torn apart by an obligation and a duty.
    This is exactly how must have felt the protagonist of the “Camp X-ray” written and directed by Peter Sattler in his directorial debut.

    “A young woman (Kristen Stewart) joins the military to be part of something bigger than herself and her small-town roots. Instead, she ends up as a new guard at Guantanamo Bay, where her mission is far from black and white. Surrounded by hostile jihadists and aggressive squadmates, she strikes up an unusual friendship with one of the detainees (Peyman Moaadi). As two people on opposite sides of a war, they struggle to find their way through the ethical quagmire of Guantanamo Bay. In the process, they form an unlikely bond that changes them both.”

    The strength of “Camp X-Ray” lays in it’s simplicity. Often the repetitive notion of narration creates in the audience sense of monotony which is precisely the emotion that both the guards and detainees must feel in “Guantanamo Bay”. It is explained in the first minutes of the movie that prisoners are called there detainees to avoid breaking the rules of the Geneva Convention about the prisoners rights no matter what they are accused of doing. In “Guantanamo Bay” the detainees have very little rights and as the story evolves just like our protagonist we start to feel sense of empathy towards them. This contrast creates interesting dynamic and is a driving force behind this powerful drama. In a visual sense director Peter Sattler mirrors the cell in which detainee is held to the living quarters of the Kristen Stewart character symbolically creating a bond between them of two people on opposite sides feeling the same emotions. Kristen Stewart’s character Amy Cole was originally written for a male role but thankfully by making her a female Sattler added an additional layer of sexuality and sensuality in the dynamic between the lead characters.
    Where the movie truly excels is in the performances. I must say I have never been a huge fan of “Twilight” movies as well as the lover of Kristen Stewart acting talent. In many ways she has always been overrated as an actor, however any actor with amount of quality work on A level projects can eventually improve and this is precisely what happen to Stewart. In “Camp X-Ray” she delivers arguably her best performance finding something very truthful and soulful behind her choices. There is a deep inner dialog whenever she does not speak and when she delivers her lines they are backed up by some deep truthful emotions that audience can feel. Peyman Moaadi performance also deserves a praise as detainee without a hope who starts to feel something for a woman on the other side of door. Their relationship is a driving force of this drama and creates an interesting combination of romance and friendship in least expected place. In someway they both help each other survive the monotony as well as alienation from the groups they belong to. The stigma of who is good or bad is lifted and whats left is two people hungry for connection and intimacy. I really liked “Camp X-Ray” for it’s performances, visual style and the underrated music and sound design that carries sense of mediative peace that audience of less action based, more of an intellectual taste will like.
    (********1/2 out of 10)
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