The Road to Guantanamo

"Good"

The Road to Guantanamo Review


The search-for-Al-Qaeda exposés hit a strange turn with Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross' The Road to Guantanamo. A mockumentary that is supposed to be taken dead seriously, we are thrown into a small hell of assumption and horror that often reaches for, but never really matches, the sneaked Guantanamo footage or any of the thousand torture videos produced by either side in the lengthy war campaign. It's a stinger, but it has the taste and smell of plastic.

On a road trip to meet his bride, Asif (Arfan Usman) finds himself in need of a new best man and groomsmen when his best friend cops out on him. Ruhel (Farhad Harum) accepts it and their friends Monir and Shafiq take on the groomsmen positions on the road trip to meet his future (arranged) wife. On their way, they decide to take a bus to Afghanistan, for no other reason then to help spread peace. They hit the border and a bomb explodes, setting off a terrible series of events: Monir gets lost, the remaining three bump into Northern Alliance soldiers who believe they are Pakistanis (read: terrorists) and send the lot of them to Guantanamo. Winterbottom and Whitecross go all-out to show the inhumanity of the tortures and tricky games that the three men are put through before they are let out.

Winterbottom is playing the party line here, but whether this is a bad thing or an acceptable thing comes as a mighty big quandary. Up until now, Winterbottom oeuvre has been wonderfully spasmodic, swinging without care from the punch-in-the-gut realism of In This World to the stunning '80s post-punk-to-rave masterpiece 24 Hour Party People to the mesmerizing Tristram Shandy. Road to Guantanamo seems to want to be like In This World, but its presuppositions and tendencies towards extremes, as true as they might be, suck out the soul of the film.

The film works as an exercise: contemplating the possibilities and the ridiculousness of these current torture camps. The scene where the interrogator tries to tell the three men that they are obviously on a video of a rally for Osama Bin Laden teeters between horror and dark comedy so well that you'll find yourself looking around to see how others react. But the characters, though acted well by all three men, somehow get lost in the thralls of showing how terrible these torture camps can be. Maybe the point was to suffocate with torture: to give the audience such a grueling session that they suddenly jump up and scribble "No Blood for Oil" on their chest and buy a Good Bush/Bad Bush T-shirt. If that is Winterbottom and Whitecross' charge, then it seriously lacks in gravity and it shows no sign of balance or experimentation.

As strange and unbalanced as it is, Guantanamo seems like an appropriate addition to Winterbottom's assemblage; that small brown beauty mark that make his work far from peerless but also distinguishes it as far more rambunctious than most. You also have to give kudos to Winterbottom and Whitecross for making a depressing movie with a "Road to..." title. Actually, I take that back, The Road to El Dorado made me want to kill myself.

Next time I'm holding the map.



The Road to Guantanamo

Facts and Figures

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 9th March 2006

Box Office USA: $0.2M

Distributed by: Roadside Attractions

Production compaines: Screen West Midlands

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 82 Rotten: 13

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: , Mat Whitecross

Starring: as Shafiq, as Ruhel, Waqar Siddiqui as Monir, Afran Usman as Asif Iqbal, Shahid Iqbal as Zahid, Sher Khan as Sher Khan, Jason Salkey as Military Interrogator Sheberghan

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.