Casting off Persians
IWomen Without Men, feminist fantasia, not rated, in Farsi with subtitles, CCA Cinematheque, 1.5 chiles Despite the title, there are male actors in the recent Iranian film Women Without Men. Apparently, they just happen to be on loan from a Farsi-language production of What’s Love Got to Do With It? They are authoritarian brothers, domineering husbands, and emotionless johns, marchers in a veritable anti-subtlety campaign against actually understanding the very worthy topic of legalized violence against Iranian women.
The first-time feature by Shirin Neshat offsets its heavy-handed narrative with cinematography that is as rich and stunning as anything you will see on screen this year. Trained as a photographer and video artist, Neshat offers no shortage of visual beauty in this film. There’s not a frame here that a fine-art photographer would not admire. Unfortunately, this film’s origins as a video installation show through in every frame as well. Neshat seems to lack a command of plot, pacing, dialogue, or any other dynamic that makes a film more than just a series of moving images.
Set in Tehran, in the weeks before the 1953 coup d’état that resulted in the Shah’s return to power, Women Without Men uses political turmoil as a hothouse background to explore the
Black sheep of the family: Shabnam Toloui