Cast­ing off Per­sians

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Casey Sanchez The New Mex­i­can

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

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