Camp X-Ray is one of those films that doesn't quite leave you after the credits roll. It wasn't what I was expecting and I was surprised the film didn't revolve around politics. The cinematography, the soundtrack, including the constant hum in the background all formed a very real atmosphere. Visually, Camp X-Ray is impressive, but the real essence of the film does lie in the characters. The acting is some of the best I've seen.
80% of the film takes place on opposite sides of a cell door. We catch a small glimpse through a small glass window, and yet this is enough to feel the chemistry between Peyman Moaadi and Kristen Stewart. I can't even begin to imagine the difficulty at capturing what they did through a window, but it appears effortless.
The characters are incredibly fleshed out and there are some small hints of this, such as a glimpse of Cole wearing socks with sandals. A personality statement in itself. It's all about the small things!
I do think a big part of why this film affected me so much is because of my age. I saw parts of Cole in myself.
She wants to make a difference, she's seeking a way to push herself and the army is a straight forward way of doing that. It pushes your limits, it goes against what women should really do, and by doing that you're trying to prove something within yourself. You're tougher and braver than you appear. Yet put in this situation, things aren't so straight forward or 'black and white' as she expresses. Life is so much more complicated, relationships develop, experiences happen that throw you off course.
Then there's the added uncertainty of everything, the frustration of not knowing, wondering whether this is right? Whether this is what you want to do? Whether it's okay to speak to this guy? Questioning what you have always been taught is right and wrong.
I do feel that a lot of films tend to portray women as tough, fearless and almost masculine, but underneath the tough front, I think we all really are vulnerable. There's no escaping that. It's easy to act like things are okay, to put on a tough front, to hide, but there's still always going to be that vulnerability...maybe it goes as you get older, I don't know.
In the end she discovers her way own way of making a difference, in a way that at the beginning of the film would have been unimaginable, and it just shows how much can change, how little we know, and how important it is to keep an open mind.
Overall, I was surprised. It wasn't the film I expected, but much, much more. You'll feel every emotion imaginable. It's the kind of film that takes everything you know, or think you know, stirs it all up and throws it back at you to figure out.
Everything about this film is commendable.