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Sex o phalsapheh (2005)

On his fortieth birthday, a man engineers a revolt against himself. He telephones his lovers -- all four of them -- and arranges to meet them at his dance school that afternoon. The women ... See full summary »


Mohsen Makhmalbaf
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Daler Nazarov
Mariam Gaibova Mariam Gaibova
Farzona Beknazarova Farzona Beknazarova
Tahmineh Ebrahimova Tahmineh Ebrahimova
Malohat Abdulloeva Malohat Abdulloeva
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Nadira Abdullaeva Nadira Abdullaeva
Ali Akbar Abdulloev Ali Akbar Abdulloev
Dilafruz Burkhanova Dilafruz Burkhanova
Lutfullo Davlat Lutfullo Davlat
Malika Gadoeva Malika Gadoeva
Nika Gafurova Nika Gafurova
Gulrukhsor Gayurova Gulrukhsor Gayurova
Turana Ismail Turana Ismail
Tamanno Karimova Tamanno Karimova
Nodira Mazitova Nodira Mazitova


On his fortieth birthday, a man engineers a revolt against himself. He telephones his lovers -- all four of them -- and arranges to meet them at his dance school that afternoon. The women are shocked to discover that they have been sharing the affections of the same man. He arrives and tries to explain his actions. He has realized that time is limited for each of us. Total honesty is the only answer. One by one we review the beginning of each affair. The man and his lovers discuss passion, possession, time. How love blossoms from even the smallest seed. He gives each woman a parting gift -- a stopwatch -- and asks them to measure each minute of true love that they experience from now on. The women leave. The man is alone. Later, the fourth woman calls him and they arrange to meet at her house, where he finds the tables turned: he is now one of four lovers. Unable to handle the new situation, the men argue and depart. The man is left alone again... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


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France | Iran | Tajikistan


Russian | Tajik

Release Date:

9 December 2005 (South Korea) See more »

Also Known As:

Seks ve felsefe See more »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$300,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


Official submission of Tajikistan for the 'Best Foreign Language Film' category of the 78th Academy Awards in 2006. See more »


Jan: Every love affair is a result of trivial events
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User Reviews

An interesting lyrical experiment of the absurd and the surreal--merging Iranian and Tajik cultures
14 June 2007 | by Jugu AbrahamSee all my reviews

Sex is not a politically correct subject to discuss in present day Iran. Kissing in cinema is frowned upon. Even modern dance with women showing naked arms and uncovered hair is not approved. More so, if the dance director is of the opposite sex. It is therefore not surprising that the Iranian director went to nearby Tajikistan to make the film in Russian, Farsi and Tajik languages.

The film has neither sex nor nudity—the subject of sex is merely suggested by a male hand and a female hand caressing each other, in lyrical synchrony to the violin of Vanessa Mae. The director states on his website that the four women shown are his vision of the development of the adult women. The story is constructed on a series of intellectual debates of a cynical male philosopher and his women friends, eventually retracting from the world of a lover to one of self imposed loneliness (shades of the Iranian Mehrjui's "The Pear Tree" and Allan Sillitoe's short story "The loneliness of the long-distance runner" hover, as the subject balances social concerns and politics without making either one obvious) while paying tribute to Russian literary geniuses Chekov and Tolstoy (whose names are thrown by the shopkeeper who sell three antique watches). Do not miss out the hidden, mischievous comment that the third watch on sale, indirectly connected to Stalin, is picked up by the protagonist's third lover who likes to erase the protagonist from her memory, preferring the watch to the ones related to literary figures! The film tries to imitate the color coding of the late Polish genius Kieslowski. In this Makhmalbaf film, the four women wear black, red, blue and white and the color coding is accomplished quite well. Evidently the second lover had shades of the last of the four characters as she wears one red shoe and one white one. The switch from one color to the other is gradual.

The film is very well made with touches of the absurd (talking to each other within the same car using mobile phones, "a cold coffee with a cold smile", a poodle in a woman's bed preferred to the human lover) and the surreal (a big passenger plane with just one passenger, autumn leaves covering a dance hall, the lighted candles on the dashboard of a moving car, etc).

The finest attribute of the director is his casting--ever film of his has the most evocative performers that breathe endearing reality in each frame.

This is the second Mohsen Makhmalbaf that I have seen—the first being "Gabbeh" and I continue to be reminded of the works of a genius of cinema Sergei Paradjanov in the Sixties--"Color of Pomegranates" and "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors." For those who have not seen these masterpieces of the late Armenian/Ukranian genius, Makhmalbaf's cinema would seem truly unique and groundbreaking. For those fortunate to have seen Paradjanov's works, "Gabbeh" and "Sex and Philosophy" walk along a path well trodden by a little known giant of world cinema..

While this film is an important film from the Iranian director, this is arguably not representative of the finest Iranian new wave cinema. Surprisingly, this film was shown on an Indian TV channel.

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