7 user 20 critic

Mahi va gorbeh (2013)

A number of students have traveled to the Caspian region in order to participate in a kite-flying event during the winter solstice. Next to their camp is a small hut occupied by three cooks who work at a nearby restaurant.



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Credited cast:
Abed Abest ...
Mona Ahmadi ...
Ainaz Azarhoush ...
Nazanin Babaei ...
Mohammad Berahmani ...
Siavash Cheraghipoor ...
Saeed Ebrahimifar ...
Alireza Esapoor ...
Shadi Karamroudi ...
Mohammad Reza Maleki ...
Faraz Modiri ...
Milad Rahimi ...
Arnavaz Safari ...


A number of students have traveled to the Caspian region in order to participate in a kite-flying event during the winter solstice. Next to their camp is a small hut occupied by three cooks who work at a nearby restaurant.

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Release Date:

27 March 2014 (USA)  »

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Fish & Cat  »

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User Reviews

Extraordinary, cutting edge, compelling and technically brilliant.
15 June 2014 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

A truly exceptional and extraordinary film that was both compelling and technically brilliant. Much like Alexander Sokurov's 2002 film Russian Ark, this film is shot in one single, continuous take that lasts, in this case, over two hours in length. That's enough to make it a technical marvel, but better is that Shahram Mokri manages to make a tantalising tale in the process.

The film starts by relating the urban legend of restaurants in the north of Iran which were shut down due to serving human flesh. Then the single shot begins and we follow two men from a suitably ominous restaurant attempting to coax some lost travellers to dine there. It's a fairly obvious beginning, and the insidious tension is high from the start.

However from there, the tale (and the shot) meanders much more than we might expect. We branch off to follow different characters for a while, then we catch up with old ones. Then, we start to see scenes which are oddly familiar—we end up in cycles, in loops of time that all seem to flow so naturally from one to the other. And there's always that underlying sinister element— we know something bad is going to happen from that first moment of the film, but we don't quite know when.

This is all the hook it needed for me to keep me captivated through this tale. And I was captivated throughout—this was riveting stuff, even as we watch the most mundane conversations between two characters, and then repeat them again from a slightly different angle some time later.

In the discussion after the showing of the film, the director stated fairly unequivocally that he wasn't influenced by any Iranian directors in particular, but as far as I'm concerned there are huge similarities to two of Jafar Panahi's films—the meandering storytelling of Dayereh, which also follows a sequence of different characters, and Closed Curtain (an excellent film I saw at the festival in 2013), which has that same sense of understated mystery and foreboding.

This really was an excellent film—it was ground-breaking and avant-garde in all the best ways possible, and used its uniqueness as a brilliant hook to enhance its appeal.

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