Urban angst, Iranian-style
OPENS SEPTEMBER 12, CERT 12A, 97 MINS
For anyone under the illusion that Iranian cinema is only about lost children and oppressed women, Jafar Panahi’s potent new film will be a sharp corrective. The in-your-face opening scene captures a hulking stranger (later revealed to be lead character Hussein, played by Hossein Emadeddin) in the act of holding up a jewellery store. The robbery goes wrong, and Hussein shoots both proprietor and himself. From here Panahi backtracks to explore what led to this fatal action, following his character around a Tehran that’s socially divided between the haves and the have-nots. Firmly in the latter camp, the increasingly disaffected Hussein is something of a Travis Bickle figure; pushed into life’s margins once too often, he finally takes action.
This trenchant, tragic drama was inspired by a news story related to Panahi by fellow film-maker Abbas Kiarostami, and the director brings it to life with the same urban immediacy and vivid, pointed objectivity that marked his previous film, The Circle. Powerful, relevant and 100 per cent human.