Niki Karimi, Pegah Ahangarani, Maryam Boubani, Reza , Kianian, Babak Hamidian, Atyla Pessiani / Fiction / Persian
A warm ensemble portrait of contemporary Tehran.
?Young photographer Pegah is heading out of the city, depositing her mobile phone in a charity box on the way. Fortysomething Minoo battles the downtown traffic, attempting to save a rare carpet on loan to the National Carpet Museum from being sold to a private buyer in the bazaar. Her mother sits in the passenger seat of the battered four-wheel-drive as they careen around the backstreets of Tehran; nostalgic and increasingly senile, she appears to be wholly absorbed in the past. In one middle class Tehran family, the three women appear to be living their lives in parallel.Director Manijeh Hekmat came to international attention with her controversial debut Women’s Prison. Her second feature, although reflective, even pensive, marks a shift to warmer, subtler territory. Hekmat has combined the cream of Iranian acting talent – including the rakish Reza Kianian as Minoo’s sometime artist boyfriend Rafi – with a gripping set of interweaving narratives, each marked by the gift or loss of a carpet. Clichéd as it may sound, the women learn about themselves as much as each other, their presents and their pasts; the result is both instantly familiar and utterly compelling. This is the un-newsworthy humanity of everyday Iran.Screen siren (and rising directorial talent) Niki Karimi is a tour-de-force as carpet conservator and single mother Minoo. Part of the generation that precipitated the Islamic Revolution of 1979, she is independent and urbane, yet constrained by family and duty. A cameo by underground folk-rock band 127 – for whom “time hangs heavy on our hands” – punctuates the gap between Minoo and her post-revolutionary daughter and friends. Veteran DoP Dariush Ayyari makes as much of Tehran (and his lead) as he does sumptuous desert scenes: memorably, Minoo ponders her predicament, leaning against her car as the traffic honks and swirls around her, and sitting by the side of the road, as the city’s icey sluice runs beneath her. 3 Women is, unusually, set to be both a domestic box office hit and an international festival favourite.
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