Posted by martinteller on July 15, 2012
Writer/director Mania Akbari dedicates this film to Abbas Kiarostami, and with good reason. Her first gig was as an actress in Ten a couple years prior, and you can see the influence. Seven one-shot conversations between a man (Bijan Daneshmand) and a woman (Akbari). As in many Kiarostami films (especially Ten), most of the discussions occur in moving vehicles: cars, a ski lift, a boat. And although it would have been chronologically impossible for it to have been an influence, it reminded of Certified Copy in that we don’t know if these seven couples are the same couple every time.
I should think not, or rather that it doesn’t really matter, because Akbari is commenting on universal problems for women in Iran. The discussions largely center around the gap in freedoms between men and women, not necessarily in their laws but in how they perceive gender roles. The man is sometimes boorish to the level of horror (as in the first segment when he tests the woman’s virginity) but even when he appears pleasant, there are undertones in his demeanor that suggest there are different rules for different sexes. Around every corner, he sees threats to his dominance over the woman. Her attempts to assert her freedoms fall on deaf, resistant ears.
The motion seems to be proportional to the emotional content of the conversation. The only stationary scene is a relatively sedate talk in a restaurant and how each would behave if they could change their genders. But while riding on a motorcycle, they discuss abortion (surprisingly frank for an Iranian film, lesbianism is covered as well), and in the penultimate scene, a train is the setting for a confrontation that becomes explosive.
The digital video is a bit rough, but contributes to the immediate, natural documentary feel of the movie. The two performances are generally excellent but once in a while feel a bit stagey, which might be mostly due to dialogue that’s occasionally a bit too pointed. But the film is really very interesting, a revealing viewpoint on contemporary Iranian feminist issues. Rating: Very Good (83)