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Published February 4th 2013
Kathryn Bigelow is making her name for herself as one of the premier directors in Hollywood, in what is generally regarded as a male orientated industry. Indeed her 2009 'The Hurt Locker' garnered tremendous critical acclaim, and landed her an Academy Award for Best Director, as well as a Best Picture win for the film itself.
Cue to present day, and she again takes on that perilous subject of war, this time in the hunt to find and kill Osama Bin Laden. Much has been said about the film's use of torture, classified CIA documents, the public backlash by certain US Senators. But what Bigelow and her screen writing partner, Mark Boal (who also penned 'The Hurt Locker'), have achieved is an uncompromising look at the journey, the sacrifices and the atonement for a singular moment in history that changed the lives of everyone, through the eyes of a CIA officer played exceptionally by Jessica Chastain.
Indeed there's a parallel between Bigelow and Chastain's character Maya, in that Maya is also unabashedly good at what she does, and is a lone woman trying to achieve what her male counterparts cannot. One scene in particular has her writing the days since the compound where she believed Bin Laden was in, on her superior's window, shows the determination of this woman that is
Chastain delivers perhaps her finest role, in what has been a relatively short but already illustrious career, and is it really surprising that it is Bigelow that helps her achieve that? And with a vast array of supporting characters including Australia's own Jason Clarke, and Joel Edgerton, as well as other familiar faces such as Mark Strong & James Gandolfini, the film ensures to encapsulate each of them and their roles to remind us the many facets that went into this being achieved.
And Bigelow proves her directing chops, all throughout the film. In particular a 30 minute sequence told solely at night and through the use of night vision goggles, is some sort of experience. And as showed with the Hurt Locker, she is no stranger to war, mixed with the emotional turmoil that it can bring and leaves no stone unturned with regards to that.
The torture scenes aren't for the faint of heart, and clocking at 2.5 hours, it requires your time and commitment, not to mention the story is well publicised and the ending is known to all. But it's the journey that takes hold of the viewer, and Bigelow is flawless in showing that.
There have been many films since 9/11, Zero Dark Thirty is perhaps the most definitive one of them all.