The Iranian films were the first ones I booked for the festival. Well, three out of the four screening. I blame the handful of brilliant Iranian films I have seen in the past year – A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, A Separation, The Past, Crimson Gold, Rhino Season. Of course this means my hopes were high for Tales. It was a little episodic, consisting of loosely linked tales that followed ordinary people as they grapple with the inequities, frustrations and tragedies of life in a country that is faltering. I don’t know the director, Rakhshan Banietemad’s, work but it seems that many of these characters were drawn from previous films.
Some of the stories are fleeting – siblings overheard on a train plotting to extort their father – and others pull us right in. I found my attention wandering occasionally, there seemed to be so much dialogue and not enough time to feel what was really happening but some of the stories really engaged, particularly for me when they focused on women. The wife with a burned face hiding from her husband, the destitute woman and child in the back of a taxi, the mother who receives a last letter from her first husband. The last tale was the strongest, an absorbing and realistic conversation with a sting in its tail.