When you are a filmmaker and you are not allowed to direct movies any more, you have to retrain. So why not become a taxi driver? Or better, why not pretend you are a taxi driver and make a film despite everything? This is what Jafar Panahi has done. Now he invites you to get into his cab for the price of a cinema ticket, to ride through the streets of Tehran and discover its people in the persons of his various passengers.Written by
Some films can't be fully appreciated without knowledge of the way they have been conceived. This is clearly the case for 'Taxi Teheran'. The story behind it: Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi has been convicted by the regime for making 'subversive' films, and is no longer allowed to film in Iran. Consequently, Panahi has switched to making 'stealth' films: his film making is no longer visible. These films are smuggled out of the country and showed in art-house cinemas around the world.
'Taxi Teheran' is filmed with a dash cam. It shows Panahi as a taxi driver in Teheran, talking with his passengers, and discussing the hot political topics in Iran he is not allowed to touch upon. His passengers talk about the death penalty, about political prisoners, about the male-centred inheritance laws, or about Ghoncheh Ghavami, the woman who got a prison sentence for attending a volleyball game.
Panahi cleverly links the political issues to real-life situations, such as the wish of a of a motorcycle accident victim, to have his last will and testament filmed with a smart-phone, before he passes away. The film is far from boring and has some funny moments. It's all done in a documentary style, without any artificial cinematographic additions. Still, everything is staged, and some camera movements and cuts make clear that Panahi is a professional director.
Unfortunately, just its being made in a stealth mode doesn't mean 'Taxi Teheran' is a terrific film. It largely depends on the dash cam-gimmick, which wears off after a half hour or so. The story itself is too meager to carry the whole film, and some of the taxi passengers are just not interesting enough to grab the viewer's attention.
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