Irreverent city engineer Behzad comes to a rural village in Iran to keep vigil for a dying relative. In the meanwhile the film follows his efforts to fit in with the local community and how he changes his own attitudes as a result.
Roushan Karam Elmi
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Mohamad Ali Keshavarz,
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In a hospital waiting room a woman learns her daughter, Solmaz Gholami, has just given birth. The ultrasound test had prepared the family for a boy. The baby, it turns out, is a girl. The joy the mother anticipated turns to terror for she knows her son-in-law's family will abandon her daughter. The old woman flees as the in-laws arrive. On the crowded streets of Tehran - a place where women are not permitted to stay out on their own or smoke in public - two women are also on the run. Arezou and Nargess have just been granted temporary leave from prison but they have no plans to return. They manage to scrounge together enough money for the bus trip to Nargess' hometown, but she lacks proper identification, and the police are searching everyone at the station. Meanwhile, their friend Pari has just escaped from prison in order to have an abortion. Threatened with death by her brothers, she flees from her father's house and meets with a former inmate, Elham, who is now married to a doctor... Written by
While Jafar Panahi's previous feature films dealt with children, with Dayereh he delves into the contentious issue of women's issues in a highly restrictive society, his native Iran. The film uses a narrative device that Tarantino might be proud to steal, with Panahi's camera following various women through their specific plights, often chasing them through the streets in handheld mode. At any moment, the camera may decide to follow a different character, and although the specific details of the various women's situations may differ, the oppression which is a part of their daily lives is consistently omnipresent. One feature of the film that is part and parcel of its roving camera approach is that there is very little in the way of exposition or denouement in any of the narrative threads. This however, seems to be the point of the entire exercise; in a society that treats women as a lower class of citizen, individual details and circumstances have no bearing on their ability to achieve anything without the presence or authority of a husband or father.
veryday occurrences such as the purchase of a bus ticket to the simple act of smoking a cigarette in public can (and does) result in mandatory incarceration for any woman at any time. The structure of the film gives the impression that literally any woman you might bump into on the streets of Tehran is caught in such a comprehensively prohibitive society that could lead to what could only be considered unconscionable drama in Western society.
Although there are no significant male characters in this story, Panahi uses the entire gender en masse to illustrate the peculiar double standards that have insinuated itself through the fabric of this society. Men are constantly harassing women with inappropriate lewd remarks to which there can obviously be no response to. Simultaneously, if a woman behaves in a manner anything less than perfectly virtuous, her liberty is instantly forfeit.
In one scene, a woman starts to stand up for herself against a casually tossed piece of innuendo, and the audience can do nothing except anticipate the unjust retaliation that will surely be endorsed by the dozens of common passers-by. There are certain elements of the film that no doubt owe to the nature of making a film under these conditions; extras occasionally can't avoid staring at the camera crew, but strangely enough, this gives the film a feel of documentary film-making that somehow enhances the narrative. Nevertheless, there is nothing amateurish about the acting of the principal women, all of whom behave so convincingly that the film conveys a sense of constant danger. Furthermore, this nervous energy never lets up, as we move from story to story at a speed that allows us to experience discomfort, without reaching closure until the final scene, which in itself is a cause for distress.
It is unlikely that Dayereh will ever be a very popular film, as it has many of the 'feel-bad' qualities of films such as A Time For Drunken Horses, with even less sympathetic sentimentality. On an even sadder note, Dayereh has been banned in Iran, where a film of this nature most desperately needs to reach an audience. However, this seems to be the underlying message of the film; not that there are a great many injustices against women occurring in Iran on a daily basis, but that there is no indication of how or when it will stop. Only why.
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