Jon Stewart was the host of an American politically satirical TV news programme called The Daily Show. In March 2013 he announced that he would be leaving the show to direct his first full-length feature film. It was to be based on the memoir Then They Came for Me by Maziar Bahari and Aimee Malloy and it is an exceptional achievement for his debut film. It recount’s Maziar Bahari’s 118 day internment by the Iranian authorities, most of which he spent blindfolded. It has been suggested that a satirical interview on Stewart TV programme got the London based Iranian journalist arrested as an American spy when he was in Iran to report on the country’s 2009 presidential elections. When the result of these elections was announced not surprisingly the incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected even after some very strong pre election support shown for his rival, Mir-Hossein Mousavi who some expected to win, but it was suspected that the result had been rigged. Protests followed in all of Iran’s main cities and the world’s journalist descended on the country including the subject of this movie.
During his internment at the Evin prison by the Revolutionary Guard the most distinguishing feature of Javadi (Kim Bodnia) his interrogator was that he smelled of rosewater hence the name of the film. Gael Garcia Bernal does a grand job of portraying the harrowing events inflicted upon Bahari, showing how he managed to survive the experience with the film suggesting that it was the video evidence of the protests he provided to the BBC rather than the interview that was the real reason for his imprisonment. As well as directing this drama Stewart also wrote the screenplay and since its release he has been accused by Iran’s state TV of being funded by Zionist and of working with America’s CIA. This absorbing portrait of modern world politics does have a surprising amount of humour considering the situation, which does take the edge of what could be a very disturbing watch.