I love film festivals. The weekend I chose to be in Melbourne, the Iranian Film festival just happened to be on. As my loyal readers will know, I have a penchant for Iranian films – Rhino Season, Manuscripts Don’t Burn, Crimson Gold, The Past, A Separation, Radio Dreams, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. And at festivals you end up seeing films you know nothing about, that will probably never get a release in Australia. A risk, yes, but a risk worth taking for this surprising film that I chose only because of its time slot and the beautiful B&W image above.
Navid Mohammadzadeh, who plays the lead character Khosrow, was at the screening and spoke beforehand in Farsi to an almost completely Iranian audience. It was a rare chance for me to be a cultural minority, to hear the laughter at his humour before the translator included me in the joke.
What I really loved about this film was that it wasn’t what it at first seemed. We meet Khosrow, a relatively famous singer, self-important, aware of his image, impatient with his wife and atrociously spoilt son. We see him pursued by a young women, Hanna (Tannaz Tabatabayi), and through fragmented scenes, imbued with the red of neon lights and the circular red lenses of his Lennon-like glasses, we see he has formed a relationship with her. All is not as it seems, though, and we see the same story from the point of view of Hanna.
I don’t want to say too much about the story as I enjoyed the unexpected turn it takes. It morphs from the nervy lightness of an emotional drama to a moving exploration of gender, culture and ego. About half-way through, the colour slowly bleeds from the film, the pace slows, the silences grow and the real meaning emerges. And powerful it is. The last scenes are profound, the scene with the fan is exquisite. Don’t miss it.
Bechdel test – fail