Understated yet absorbing drama from Iran
OPENS APRIL 9, CERT PG, 93 MINS
At first, it doesn’t look good. It opens in high-art film style, with a man (Nezam Manouchehri) driving a car through a desert with his sleeping wife (Leila Hatami). And driving. And driving. But don’t go to sleep just yet, because this turns into quite an absorbing, pellucid little drama that gets better as it goes along, building to a proper emotional climax, albeit an understated, oblique one typical of Iranian cinema.
When the man’s motor breaks down, he’s forced to seek help in a nearby town that’s populated with old women, children and a schoolteacher (Mehran Rajabi), who fortunately also happens to know a bit about cars. He and the husband go off for a spare part, leaving the beautiful but slightly neurotic wife in charge of the schoolkids for the day, and by slow degrees both children and the haunted visitor from the city establish a touching rapport. Underneath the surface, though, there’s a surrealist turbulence stirring up the waters, and a powerful tragic undertow. Stunning cinematography and a restrained score help cast a mesmerising spell.