Is 2014 the year of the Kristen Stewart renaissance? Taking a break from making major studio pictures seems to have done the actress some good; rather than involve herself in big budgeted monstrosities like Snow White and the Huntsman and the Twilight franchise, she has instead chosen to explore her art house options with French filmmaker Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria and Peter Sattler’s independent military drama Camp X-Ray, the first trailer for which can be seen above.
The title may hold immediate meaning for those who keep up with recent American history; it’s named for one of Guantanamo Bay’s more controversial temporary detention facilities, a place where prisoners’ legal statuses were frequently in question (along with the government’s processes for trying their cases). The camp has been shut down since 2002, which is apparently enough time for Sattler to ask us to reexamine the purpose of its existence afresh, through a story of unexpected connections.
Camp X-Ray follows Private First Class Amy Cole (Stewart) as she’s assigned guard duty at Camp Delta, one of the replacement camps established to replace X-Ray after its closure. It’s a tough day job, to say the least; she and her fellow soldiers are tasked with keeping watch over the base’s many detainees, which requires a blend of restraints, riot gear, and self-delusion (not to mention slippery verbiage).
But Cole came to Gitmo to do something important, and simply maintaining vigilance over Delta’s imprisoned populace isn’t enough for her. So, by and by, she strikes up a casual friendship with Amir (Peyman Moaadi, A Separation), and her perspective begins to evolve as their understanding grows (to the frustrations of her command, led by American Horror Story‘s John Carroll Lynch).
Camp X-Ray premiered at Sundance this past January (and is lined up on the festival circuit as we speak) – and by all accounts, Stewart is the reason to watch. The transformation here from her days as Bella Swan is astronomical; she looks like a serious actress to be respected – or at least an actress with newfound aspirations of being taken seriously.
No doubt Stewart’s celebrity will give Camp X-Ray a boost in visibility as it nears its theatrical release, which can only mean good news for the film. We’ll see if she lives up to the early accolades in just a couple weeks.
Camp X-Ray opens in theaters October 17th, 2014.