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Two Women (1999), written and directed by Tahmineh Milani, is an
Iranian film shown as part of the Alan Lutkus International Film Series
at SUNY Geneseo. (Persian title "Do zan.")
This movie follows the lives of two women whom we first encounter when one of them calls the other because of a family crisis.
The film then flashes back to the friendship of the women during their university days. Niki Karimi plays Fereshteh, a brilliant student. Marila Zare'i is cast as Roya, an intelligent woman, but no intellectual match for Fereshteh.
As fate would have it, Roya achieves relative independence in her marriage and professional life in Teheran. Fereshteh is trapped in a stultifying existence in a rural area.
Anyone who has read "Reading Lolita in Teheran" knows about the almost unbelievable repression of women in present-day Iran. This film personalizes that experience, by showing us a bright, amiable, attractive woman crushed by the weight of a society that is totally dominated by men.
This movie is grim and disturbing. However, it's well acted, and portrays what I believe to be the reality of the status of women in a fundamentalist culture.
The film verges on old-fashioned melodrama at some points, especially near the end, but the acting is solid and, overall, this is a film worth seeking out and seeing.
(The Alan Lutkus International Film Series at SUNY Geneseo is presented by the Office of the Provost, several academic departments, and the IFS Committee.)
"Two Women" was screened before 1,500 moviegoers in a sold out house at the
4th Annual Roger Ebert Overlooked Film Festival in April 2002 at the
Virginia Theatre in Champaign, Illinois.
Writer/Director Tahmineh Milani flew from Iran to be Roger Ebert's guest at the film festival showing of her most outstanding movie.
Following the showing T. Milani received a standing ovation as Roger Ebert escorted her on stage, where she answered questions about her life and the making of this true life Iranian story.
She explained about the customs of the Iranian people pertaining to the freedom of Iranian women in that country. This movie was a true story of one of T. Milani's friend's life. Ms. Milani stated that currently about 50 percent of her country's male population believes that way.
There were two wonderful female stars in the film. Niki Karimi played Fereshteh and Marila Zare'i played the role of her friend, Roya. These two female Iranian actors showed superb acting ability and dedication to their acting craft. This movie was, by far, so different than other formula movies cranked out by the movie industry. While other movies may be hard to remember years later, this film will remain on the moviegoer's mind for time to come. It was that powerful and intense.
The movie was spoken in Farsi speech (with English subtitles) but that did not diminish from the understanding of the film. One gets absorbed into the film and easily follows the story line.
A crazed maniac character, Hassan, played by Mohammad Reza Forutan was menacing, scary, and believable. You would not want Hassan stalking you as he stalked Fereshteh. He is a fine and scary actor!
Atila Pesiani played Ahmad, Fereshteh's arranged marriage husband. Ahmad is "traditional" and jealous of Fereshteh trying to have a personal life of enrichment. Although a "good man" in his heart, he follows the old Iranian customs whereby a women cannot do anything in public by herself and must have a male family member with her wherever she goes.
Reza Khandan played Fereshteh's traditional father who arranges his daughter's marriage to an older man. Fereshteh's father displays a false pride and shame of everything that his daughter does.
The enlightenment comes to the audience when we learn that traditional Iranian men seem to be ashamed and feel dishonor no matter what their female children do. Always "worrying" what the neighbors will "think" Fereshteh's father keeps her in a virtual prison of the home until he marries her off to Ahmad who, in turn, also keeps Fereshteh homebound until her sanity becomes jeopardized in the end.
This is a great film. And, Director Milani is to be praised in spite of the political and judicial liability hanging over her for making this film. Tahmineh Milani has given the world a frank and realistic look into the way women are treated in Iran.
This magnificent foreign film is an undeniable 10! It is available on VCR and DVD. Check it out, truly!
unfortunately it seems that in translating this film to English some problems have occurs. the revolution in this film is not the Islamic revolution which changed the government. its cultural revolution that happened years after Islamic revolution. the name of two woman doesn't mean fereshte and her friend it means fereshte before marriage &after marriage. her friend in the film wants to show that this situation is not all Iranian women destiny. this films trays to show how some traditions &some misjudgment from Islam can make a mess.a Westerner who watch this film should be very smart to understand it.other wise he will find it a boring ,simple film.
This is a very non-Iranianesque movie in the sense that it isn't totally
depressing as its older siblings, but most Iranian movies do merge on one
point - the suffering of people, and in this case: women.
So you might say that this film has a more positive outlook on life than the general movie from Iran. If you regard movies as psycho-cultural mirrors of their places of origin, then it becomes evident that the spark of positivism is due to the more liberated Iran, and consequently the anguish portrayed in this film is also a reflection of the Iranian women's agony.
But in this black night of tragedy, brilliant stars of hope appear and glimmer for a while, but not long though. The movie even begins with an ominous phone call by a desperate woman. It then unfolds, flashbacks sandwiched between the main story. This way the movie never lets go of the suspense, while on the same time, it unravels new things for the viewer.
It seems quite strange for me that such a movie could pass the beard-stroking-sharia-in-hand ayatollahs considering the fact that it is very feministic and portrays women as careerists and independent. Maybe this is another sign of the more open Iran mentioned above. There are however, implications from the men in the movie that the women should stay home and do the traditional chores around the house (i.e. giving birth and cooking food).
All of the actors in this movie are very good, particularly Niki Karimi (who should get an Oscar, or at least a Palme D'or, for her breathtaking perfomance on the stairs, reflecting her life) and, my favourite, Mohammed Reza Foroutan (who plays the somewhat shy and misunderstood maniac very well, compare this roll with the one in Zire Pooste Shahr and you'll see what a great actor he is).
Two women( dou zan) is one of the best movies I have ever seen. It tells the story of society who couldn't tell its story for such a long time. Whether it could not see it or it could not say it. I adore her because what she did is a breakthrough. Though you may show sympathy for Fereshteh, but the issue is deeper than that. It tells about the rights which are being ignored and the humen who are being humulated just because of wrong social customs. Tahmineh milani showed she is truly an intellectual in broad sense of the word.Good for her that can see and say the vital problems in such away that touches almost everyone immediately. Full credit to her.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is an Iranian soap opera. The male evil characters are
caricatures. One is psychopathic stalker and the other man of the
'arranged marriage' is a tormentor. The movie is also very repetitive,
with arguments being repeated verbatim between the wife and her
domineering husband at regular intervals. The music, at times, is
laughable with the same chords heard over and over whenever the evil
stalker appears. It's like the director had watched too many spaghetti
The only thing of general interest is that the context is Iranian. There are abundant Western movies on harassment, male domination and abuse that are far better than this 'North Country' comes to mind.
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