“Camp X-Ray” (2014)
If there’s any reason to be thankful for the 10.5-hour-long karaoke video that is “The Twilight Saga,” it’s that without it, it’s likely Stewart would not have had to fight quite so hard to reestablish her credibility as an actress, and might not have made the same interesting choices that she did in its immediate aftermath. A case in point is first-time writer/director Peter Sattler‘s Guantánamo Bay film “Camp X-Ray.” While by no means an unqualified success (it’s too hesitant and slow-paced to really catch fire), the film is a surprisingly uncompromised attempt to look into the heart of darkness of America’s post-9/11 detention program, and Stewart is remarkably good. Playing off an excellent Peyman Moaadi (“A Separation,” “About Elly“) in what is largely a two-hander, it’s the slightly credulity-straining story of an unlikely friendship that develops between Amy Cole, a newbie grunt on guard duty, and Ali, a longtime Guantánamo “detainee” (so called because “prisoners” are subject to the Geneva Convention, where “detainees” are not). But it’s lent credibility by the sureness of the two performances, with Stewart’s aura of truculent defensiveness providing Cole an interesting edge — as so often, it’s the way she does not openly court audience sympathy that ultimately makes her character feel like a real, flawed and struggling person.