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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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
"The Circle" adds to the genre of grim, depressing, didactic feminist movies made by men on non-Anglo cultures that we have seen little on to challenge their viewpoint, such as the Israeli "Kadosh" and the Indian "Bandit Queen." Like the latter, it was banned in its home country, according to the film poster.
The beginning of "The Circle" felt like an out-of-kilter futuristic sci fi movie, as a few chadored women move through a male-crowded modern city (I presume Teheran) filled with the latest contemporary commercial goods.
And the revolutionary society of Iran shown here feels a lot like those futuristic sci fi movies and books influenced by "1984" that presumed that dictatorships of the future would control sex and feelings (as opposed to the dictatorship we actually have in the West of anything goes).
From the jolting opening that gradually challenges our expectations, the most creative part of the movie is how it very slowly reveals the background of each woman as each accidentally crosses paths with others (a similar technique is employed in "Amores Perres").
For each, the only thing that keeps them going is reaching out for female solidarity and support, which results from the regime accidentally throwing them together.
Everyone walking out of the theater turned to each other in unison and said "That was depressing!"
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