Jon Stewart Launches ‘Rosewater’ Preview — Does The Comic Have Dramatic Chops Behind the Camera?

Jon Stewart has been a mainstay of Comedy Central’s jocular jabs at current events for almost 20 years now — meaning that an entire generation has grown up seeing him go after five presidential campaigns, countless scandals and even Kardashian lunacy. But Stewart has always had a serious tone that sometimes leaks over into the laughs in his program. For the first time, viewers are about to see a new Jon — the director of political drama Rosewater starring Mexican actor Gael García Bernal.

The film’s trailer calls back to other recent celebrity directorial debuts — Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning Argo about the Iranian hostage crisis has been one of the early comparisons from critics. But some, like Variety’s Scott Foundas are already saying that Stewart’s dramatic venture stands on its own.

“The punishing ordeal of Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari — imprisoned for 118 days on charges of espionage — is brought to the screen with impressive tact and intelligence by writer-director Jon Stewart in “Rosewater,” an alternately somber and darkly funny drama that may occupy the same geographic terrain as “Argo” (to which it will inevitably be compared), but in most other respects could hardly be more different.”

The film won’t get full critical appraisal until its release on November 7 later this year, but Jon has already picked up a steady string of accolades from those reviewers lucky enough to catch it on some its film festivals — Stewart’s Rosewater was already chosen as an official selection at the prestigious Colorado Telluride Film Festival.

That’s not to say that all critics have been fawning over Jon’s new movie. An early review from independent cinema site Indiewire was less than enthralled by Stewart’s first film venture.

“As a movie, Rosewater — based on real life incident in which Stewart’s own The Daily Show inadvertently played a part — suffers from the director’s underwritten screenplay and several misconceived narrative devices. The portrait of Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal), who covered the divisive 2009 Iranian elections for Newsweek before getting detained by the country’s government for over 100 days following an appearance on Stewart’s show, never manages to transform the material into a satisfactory drama.”

Despite some initial tepid reviews, the film stands to do very well at the box office with the pull of both Jon and Bernal’s names on the ticket. Argo went into the Academy Awards with haters, too — although the film pulled a universal acclaim score of 86/100 on popular review aggregator Metacritic.

It’s not quite sure yet whether or Jon Stewart has hit the same kind of home run he did with The Daily Show, but it at least gets the ball rolling on what we could be seeing from him in the future if he doesn’t want to pass over into late night territory like fellow Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert.

[Image via Comedy Central]