some, Pasha is a Robin Hood. To others, he is simply another violent
misogynist, cut from the same cloth as the acid-throwing Isfahan “vigilantes.”
In either case, he is a reflection of the corrosive social pathologies plaguing
contemporary Iran. Reza Dormishian challenges everyone’s perspective with his
whirlwind ripped-from-the-headlines drama Lantouri
screens during the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival.
is the name of the gang founded by Pasha to target those who prospered in
Iranian society through corruption. Frankly, they never really confirm any
graft per se. They just take conspicuous wealth as a priori evidence of malfeasance.
Pashi and first recruit, former prostitute Baroon really do give a good deal of
their loot back to the orphanage where he once grew up, but subsequent gang-members
are maybe not so altruistic. Nevertheless, the fab four work well together
pulling a variety of muggings, kidnappings for ransom, and blackmail-extortion
jobs. Unfortunately, it all turns sour when Pasha falls madly and crazily in
love with anti-corporal punishment activist Maryam.
exact nature of their relationship will evolve dramatically as Dormishian
divulges more and more information through his fractured Rashomon-like pseudo-documentary narrative. Frequently cutting
between talking head interview subjects representing a wide cross-section of
Iranian society, Dormishian slowly reveals the truth of their relationship and
its tragic implications. However, the hypocrisy of the legal system and the
acute vulnerability of women within the fundamentalist society are immediately
and consistently apparent. However, Dormishian will make both sides question
their assumptions when the victim pursues her legal right of “lex talionis,” or
“an eye for an eye,” which in this case means exactly what you think it does.
background, it is important to keep in mind the frequency of acid attacks in
Iran over the last few years. Naturally, the Islamist government responded to
the wave of acid attacks in Isfahan by jailing the journalists who reported
them. However, Iranian state media hailed Ameneh Bahrami (who clearly inspired
Maryam) for waiving her claim to lex talionis. Others in her position have not
been so forgiving.
and stylistically, Lantouri is both
bracing and exhilarating. It comes at you like a machine gun. Frankly,
sometimes the drama of the narrative passages is lost in the bravura
presentation, but the overall effect is dazzling. This is bold filmmaking in
every conceivable sense, so it is downright disappointing more of the big name
fall film festivals have not selected it, at least so far.
it is just Dormishian who displays his chops. Maryam Palizban’s performance as
her namesake is as courageous as anything you will see all year. It is truly
painful to watch see her disfigured beyond human recognition in her later
post-attack scenes. Yet she still imbues the journalist with a ferocious
dignity that will knock most viewers back on their heels. Similarly, Navid
Mohammadzadeh shows tremendous range and feral intensity as the unstable Pasha.
is a brutally honest film that questions the “we-want-it-we-take-it”
ethic of the redistributive Occupy movements just as forcefully as the misogyny
and institutional cruelty of the Iranian legal system. There are no “safe
places” in Lantouri. However, when it
ends, you know full well you have just seen some important cinema. Indeed, editor
Hayedeh Safiyari’s virtuoso contribution to Dormishian’s auteurist vision
cannot be overstated. Impressive and overwhelming, Lantouri is very highly recommended and assured to generate heated
discussion when it screens tomorrow (10/4) and the following Tuesday (10/11),
during this year’s VIFF.
Labels: Iranian Cinema, Maryam Palizban, Reza Dormishian, VIFF '16