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Gozaresh (The Report)

Posted by martinteller on July 16, 2012

Mahmoud is a tax collector accused — rightly or wrongly, we don’t know, but I suspect rightly — of taking bribes.  When he loses his job, it puts a strain on his already troubled marriage and things start to fall apart… in a big way.  Kiarostami’s second feature-length film is an unadorned social drama in the vein of early Kieslowski or early Tarr.  There is no music on the soundtrack, very few “showy” shots (though one of Mahmoud sitting in his car while a flashing light illuminates a branch reflected in the windshield is quite nice).  In some ways it reminded me of Scenes from a Marriage… a film some connected to Certified Copy but the comparison seems far more apt here.  When the marital strife comes to a head, it’s an incredibly tense and brilliantly staged scene.

It would seem that Kiarostami is drawing an analogy to the crumbling state of Iranian society, as apathy and corruption take root.  There are many scenes in the first half of the film whose purpose eluded me.  I’m sure they’re there for a reason, but I was unable to decode their meaning.  Discussions about minor financial matters relating to a growing societal preoccupation with money and status, perhaps.  But while most of the first half left me puzzled and impatient, the second half caught my interest as the domestic drama escalates.  Shohreh Aghdashloo is very powerful as the wife (she’s since gone on to a long career in the States, including an impressive performance in the otherwise blah House of Sand and Fog).  Kurosh Afsharpanah is also good as Mahmoud, at least in so far as he comes off like a right selfish bastard.

This is tough for me to review/rate because I feel the first part largely went over my head.  It’s probably my fault for not reading carefully into it, or not being educated enough about the Iranian situation at the time, but whatever the reason, I connected more with the obvious surface drama than the political subtext.  Kiarostami fanatics may find it more worthwhile.  Rating: Fair (64)

IMDb
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