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Having already upended our expectations by using a comic forum to present whip-smart commentary on the news of the day (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart), Jon Stewart has now decided to make a more committed attempt to settle into the world of filmmaking (after dipping his toe in film and television productions like The Great Buck Howard, The Beaver and The Larry Sanders Show, in each case playing a version of himself) by tackling the story of Maziar Bahari (Gael García Bernal), an Iranian reporter living in Canada and working for Newsweek who inadvertently gets caught up in the fervor over Iran’s elections in 2009 and is imprisoned for 118 days, thanks to a comedic segment on The Daily Show.

One would anticipate a deftly ironic skewering of the situation, but Stewart, adapting Bahari’s account from the book Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival, focuses on the uplifting humanity of Bahari in the face of unbelievable insanity all around. Intriguingly, it is the very even-handedness of Stewart’s approach downshifting from the more obvious political drama that makes Rosewater a surprisingly sentimental tale. (R) Grade: B