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Zero Dark Thirty 

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★★★★★

Starring Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Christ Pratt and Joel Edgerton. Written by Mark Boal. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Produced by Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Matthew Budman, Megan Ellison, Jonathon Levan, Tabriz Noorani, Pravesh Sahni, Ted Shipper, Greg Shapiro, David Ticotin and Colin Wilson.

The hunt for Osama Bin Laden isn't something that you'd necessarily peg an emotionally powerful journey. Going into this film, there's an assumption that it's going to be all S.E.A.L. team 6 and violence, partially because it's directed by Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) and partially because that's what everyone associates with this historical event. You'll be surprised, however, to find that Zero Dark Thirty is an emotionally heavy film about one CIA agent's decade long hunt for the terrorist and touches you in ways you wouldn't think this subject matter would.

Written by an investigative journalist, this film gives a detailed and eerily accurate account of this seemingly impossible journey and the agent, Maya (Chastain) who made it happen. Dedicating her life to this mission, and sacrificing her safety, she obtained a lead that would become a key ingredient in achieving their goal. And even though you're aware of the outcome, the level of intensity that's developed throughout will keep you on the edge of your seat. Bigelow creates a beautiful, but gritty atmosphere set to a Middle Eastern backdrop that will take your breath away and continues to awe with the level of detail she incorporates into this film. Everything down to the angry crowds, the torture scenes and the depiction of the actual raid feel real in a way that warrants at times a physical reaction from the audience.

And while the film deserves to be remembered for its breathtaking realism, it also successfully dramatizes the situation and develops dynamic human characters. By the end of the movie, you're able to identify with Maya and the heaviness of her emotional journey is placed in your lap. And contrary to what has been said about this film, it doesn't take a stance on any of the material it presents throughout, leaving the audience with a feeling and questions that have yet to be answered. Watching this film is like revisiting a historical event in America and being able to experience what it was like to be there, with material that is as accurate as a movie script will allow. —Rebecca Hillary

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