Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Crimson Gold

*Jafar Panahi*95m*2003*Iran*

Yet another engrossing film from the thriving Iranian vineyards. I wonder why it's banned in Iran--is it because it shows people being arrested for dancing or because it shows that crime exists in Iran? In any case, as a bonus, it provides a view of life in Iran in an urban setting. The events shown could have happened anywhere, so religion and geography are only skin deep in impact.

The film opens with a failed robbery and a homicide followed by a suicide. Hussein is a slow, heavy, depressed pizza delivery man, on psychiatric prescription drugs, due to marry soon. He experiences repeated humiliation due to his lowly social status, finding himself trapped in a prison of servitude and want. The best part of the movie consists of his series of incursions into an expensive jewelry shop. The first time he is not even allowed inside. The second time he comes more appropriately dressed but the inside of his pocket and his status are all too transparent, and the rebuff is so painful that he comes out, stunned and dizzy.

Perhaps interesting as an account of just one more of the myriad prisons of the mind we construct for our own confinement. Like a rat in a trap, Hussein makes a clumsy attempt to escape, before his life snuffs out.

The film itself shows the maturity of the art in Iran. It discharges smoothly, never loosing a grip on reality, or lapsing into caricaturisation. These are living, breathing people. It has little of the third world in it, and if anything, proves that Iranian cinema has already come a long way in discovering it's identity and voice.
Review by Howard Schumann

No comments: