The torturous truth can be disturbing – even at the movies


Sometimes, when you want to get away from it all, you head to the cinema and escape into a fantasy world. But once in a while, you come across a film that gets too close to reality for comfort. “Rendition” is one such movie – featuring a stellar cast of Academy Award winners, it is an excellent if profoundly disturbing portrait of torture in our world today.

The only quibble I have with the movie is that you don’t often find CIA officers – even those on their first assignments – suffering pangs of conscience in real life when confronted with gruesome torture. But then again, what do I know: there must be the odd CIA officer around with a conscience – which would make him/her, well, kinda odd.

Rendition is about the United States’ practice of exporting terror suspects to “friendly nations” – and even not-so-friendly nations like Syria – who would gladly do the torturing by proxy, hidden from public scrutiny. (The movie itself doesn’t specify in which Middle-Eastern country the story is set.) This enables the US adminstration to say, as Meryl Streep’s character (the CIA boss) insists indignantly, “America does not torture!” Yes, and I am Tiger Woods.

The twist at the end got a bit confusing: you had to try and connect the different time sequences of the parallel sub-plots from the present to the past and back. Perhaps a bit too clever.

That said, this film is so thought-provoking that I found myself with only half a dozen other patrons at the cineplex last night. Typical of Malaysians, I suppose, who like their cinematic action fast and furious or soppy and romantic and enchanting or whatever… as long as it bears no resemblance to reality!

“Rendition” is a damning indictment of torture and detention without trial. There is no attempt to preach about the evils of torture, which paradoxically makes the movie even more powerful. Instead, you get a glimpse into the hidden world of dungeons and torture – and then you decide whether you think torture (or whatever they call it) is acceptable. Catch this movie if you can.

Check out Robert Fisk’s review:

Warning… this film could make you angry

By Robert Fisk

11/05/07 “The Independent” — – At university, we male students used to say that it was impossible to take a beautiful young woman to the cinema and concentrate on the film. But in Canada, I’ve at last proved this to be untrue. Familiar with the Middle East and its abuses – and with the vicious policies of George Bush – we both sat absorbed by Rendition, Gavin Hood’s powerful, appalling testimony of the torture of a “terrorist suspect” in an unidentified Arab capital after he was shipped there by CIA thugs in Washington. Read more

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17 Jan 2008 9.58am

well actually, Anil, you kinda do bear some resemblance to tiger woods… *grin*.

ok that’s beside the point. hehe. You’re the second person I’ve come across (from Penang) to have reviewed this movie (my friend Jeff over at has his latest blogpost on this too). Definitely going to check it out when it comes out on DVD (legally!) xox

17 Jan 2008 7.41am

Robert Fisk, is a leftist nut job.