Monday, November 24, 2008

Chaharshanbe-soori (Fireworks Wednesday)

This 2006 Asghar Farhadi film is an interesting exploration on human relations especially because this Iranian film shows Persian traditions and a culture that many of us are not necessarily familiar with. But has an attention grabber story about the relativity of truth and love, deception, marriage, gossip, among many other emotions.

The story is set on the last Wednesday before the spring solstice ushers in the Persian New Year, people set off fireworks following an ancient Zoroastrian tradition and in this very day Rouhi spends her first day at a new job as a house maid. The true fireworks will rock Rouhi as she witnesses what I can call the “other” side of women in Iran that we westerners are not exposed very often –we are more used to being exposed to films that criticize the treatment of women in Muslim countries.

This is quite sophisticated storytelling and work that depicts both the urban middle and lower classes with very well developed characters and great performances that give depth to actor’s characterizations. I found it very compelling especially because if this story would have been set in any western society, it would have been very similar to any soap opera sketch; but with the little known traditions (at least by me) it becomes fascinating to realize how you can become engaged with this soapy story and consequently helps me to understand why eastern Europe countries and others are fascinated by Latin American soap operas, as whatever they see probably is as exotic behavior as what I saw in this movie.

Then when seeing the Wednesday street bonfires just made me remember other pagan/Christian traditions that some countries have (like the one I’m currently living) and how the world is so small with many similar traditions even when countries are culturally and geographical miles apart.

The film has great production values with a very fluid cinematography and has some wins in international fests like the Golden Hugo for Best Feature at the 2006 Chicago fest and the Golden Lay Harimaguada at the 2007 Las Palmas fest, among others.

This is a film that I recommend to those that want to see a different kind of women behavior in Iranian films and stories with a look at their more common, daily and regular life, even when the narrative is dramatic and complex.


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