Directed by Gavin Hood
New Line Cinema, 2007
Rated R, 122 minutes
Movies are all fake, as we know. For example, I don’t think actor Omar Metwally, who plays Anwar El-Ibrihimi in “Rendition,” is an Egyptian, let alone a green-carded Egyptian scientist living in the states. Didn’t he play a Palestinian in “Munich”?
Reese Witherspoon, who plays his wife, may have an amazingly pointed chin, but I don’t think she’s really pregnant. It’s just movie magic. Jake Gyllenhaal isn’t really a softhearted CIA employee, and Meryl Streep isn’t actually all that mean and hard-hearted. We’ve seen them fooling us with other roles and personalities. It’s all movie magic. I don’t think they were even in North Africa, as the movie suggests, but they might have been.
Nevertheless, “Rendition” is a really good movie. You just have to suspend your disbelief, as they say. And when you put wonderful directing, excellent music, stirring cinematography, and actors of this quality together, this combination really can’t miss.
The screenplay is outstanding too. It tells two stories, both supposedly about how U.S. policies are affecting people in the faraway Muslim world. One is a really touching romance about young people trying to deal with everything young people in love deal with, and coping with U.S. foreign policy at the same time.
The other story supposes that an innocent man has “disappeared” on American soil and taken overseas to a faraway torture cell, all at the hands of incredibly arrogant and inhuman U.S. government employees. While there, he endures unspeakable atrocities while his agonizing wife, back in the states, unwraps the mystery and exposes the policy of “extraordinary rendition” and many of the culprits, but not all of them.
Think it’s kind of far-fetched? Go see it. You’ll see that, when it’s done right, a movie can actually be — much as we may sob and wish it weren’t — very believable.