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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

WOMEN WITHOUT MEN (ZANAN-E BEDUN-E MARDAN)

By D.E.Levine

A New Directors/New Films 2010 Selection

Director: Shirin Neshat
Collaborating Director: Shoja Azari
Writers: Shoja Azari; Steven Henry Madoff (voiceovers and additional dialogue); Shirin Neshat (screenplay) and Shahrnoush Parsipour (novel)
Associate Producer: Shoja Azari
Line Producer: Peter Hermann
Cast: Navid Akhavan, Mina Azarian, Bijan Daneshmand, Rahi Daneshmand, Salma Daneshmand, Pegah Ferydoni, Anita Shahzad, Tahmoures Tehrani, Shabnam Toloui, Orsolya Toth and Essa Zahr
Original Music: Ryuichi Sakamoto
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Country of Origin: Gerrmany, Austria, France
Language: Persian with English subtitles
Genre: Drama

The original book was banned in Iran and its author lives in California. The director Shirin Neshat lives in exile and worked on this film for five years.

The film deals with the the condition of women in Iran and the coup that toppled the democratically elected Mossadegh government.

There are four separate stories of four individual women from different levels of Iranian society who suffer in their lives and finally find solace in an enchanted forest where their lives converge.

However, just when they seem to be achieving some semblance of freedom and happiness, they will be banished from the forest.

One young woman (Munis)approaching 30 is terrorized by her fundamentalist brother and attempts suicide. Buried in her family's garden, she is miraculously resurrected.

Middle-aged, upper class wife of a general(Fakhri) is fed up with her husband and life and disheartened when the Western lover who left her years ago returns with a young American girlfriend. She leaves her husband and moves a mansion surrounded by the enchanted forest.

A young, emaciated prostitute (Toth) rebels and runs away first to a public bath where she purifies herself and then to the enchanted forest where she is found and taken in by the general's wife.

Munis's best friend Faezeh is obsessed with marrying Munis' fundamentalist brother.

It's obvious that in her first feature film Neshat hasn't quite learned character development and continues to use her actors as symbols, as she has in previous video installations.

Conversations between characters and movements are stiff and stilted. There's little integration between the banter of the middle class intelligentsia, the political events and the lives of the four women.