Walid and Souhaire are unmarried lovers, which poses lots of problems for them in Damascus. Souhaire connives a visit to family in Tehran so that she and Walid can enjoy a weekend together ...
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Walid and Souhaire are unmarried lovers, which poses lots of problems for them in Damascus. Souhaire connives a visit to family in Tehran so that she and Walid can enjoy a weekend together but the journey leaves them questioning their relationship.Written by
As of today I am the first female to vote for this film on IMDb; I've not seen such a set of voting stats before. It is sad that this film's voters are only males, for the film has much to say about female sexuality and emancipation, or lack of it, in the Islamic cultures of Iran, Syria and Turkey.
Walid is a taxi driver and has moved to Damascus from his village. Souhaire is an urban, young, middle class woman who is Walid's unofficial girlfriend. She is independent and free-spirited, which Walid appreciates, but she conceals this from society though she pushes the boundaries at times.
Most of their relationship is conducted in Walid's taxi cab, which he drives to remote spots for the lovers to enjoy one another's company. But even then society, in the form of other drivers, interrupt their solitude. Souhaire decides to make a long promised visit to a female relative in Tehran and encourages Walid to join her so that they can enjoy time together away from the many constraints. It becomes obvious that Souhaire's female relative is privy to Souhaire's plans for she leaves them an empty apartment for their brief visit.
To reach Tehran from Damascus the pair travel by train to lake Van in Eastern Turkey, from where they cross by ferry to a waiting train that continues onto Tehran. The director uses the shifting landscape to mirror the interior developments in Walid and Souhaire's relationship. We leave bright, sunny Damascus with its yellowy buildings and dust and head through a desert landscape before arriving in a snowy and wintry Turkey. From then on the winter weather continues but the landscape becomes more grey and industrialised as the train heads through rural Iran towards Tehran.
During their journey Walid and Souhaire occupy separate cabins because they are unmarried. Neither is meant to to visit the other, but they do and, with the assistance of the sympathetic train guard, who is a symbol as well as a character, they unlock the connecting door between the two cabins allowing them access to one another without drawing unwanted attention. This creates some tense moments; when the couple arrive in Turkey where they are checked by a customs officer and again in Iran where the police board with a female official in tow who roots through Souhaire's luggage and handbag.
When they cross lake Van to Iran, Souhaire has to adopt a head scarf. She does not have one so Walid buys her one, it is red. The red scarf blows away on the boat, much to their amusement but its replacement, bought in Iran, is grey. This moment is pivotal and signals a change in the relationship; where it was playful, it becomes serious and weighted with unwelcome thoughts about sexual relations for unmarried women. What begins as a journey of unbridled passion becomes cool and reflective and, as the film ends, we are left uncertain that the relationship will continue.
The film has enjoyed success in Dubai and the actress who plays Souhaire has drawn special mention. It is a short film at 76 minutes but well conceived; direct in its statements but nuanced in its handling of the characters and their affair. It comes recommended.
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