Negar (2017)


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Introduced by the director of the Iranian Film Festival Australia (IFFA) as a rare example of an Iranian action film, I expected a touch of Hollywood and a breakneck pace but Negar was much more. Better described as a subdued psychological thriller, Negar weaves a fragmented but compelling story as the eponymous heroine struggles to understand her father’s apparent suicide.Negar (Negar Javaherian) is supported by handsome, longtime friend Peyman (Mohammad Reza Forutan) as she tries to stop her mother being evicted from the family home due to her father’s unpaid debts. Negar soon becomes entangled with a shady and thuggish businessman Behtash (Mani Haghighi) who, à la In the Heat of the Night, tends the flowers in his greenhouse as he plots nefarious deeds.

What makes this film stand out is the surreal interweaving of fragments of the past and future that Negar experiences, not always through her own eyes. There is no explanation for this but the device allows us to slowly untangle the mystery that surrounds her in a Memento-like confusion of timelines. This is done rather beautifully and without apology.

Javaherian is a capable lead and creates a credible character who is both vulnerable and tenacious. We know we can not really trust anyone in her life and this is played out with finesse. My interest flagged occasionally but I’m glad I stayed until the end. The final scene was worth it as Negar shows she is a woman of substance who should not be underestimated. And having said that, the very last shot perhaps pulls together an unnoticed thread that supposes Negar is not all she seems. See if you can pick it.

Have you seen this film? What did you think of the ending? Let me know in the comments below.

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