On the day before their holiday trip to Dubai, a wife who believes her husband is unfaithful enlists the help of Roohi, a young women sent by an agency to clean the house. She asks Roohi to make an appointment and gather information at the salon of the woman she suspects. Roohi is betrothed, innocent of marital discord. Over the course of the day, she, the couple, their small son, the wife's sister and husband, and the beautician engage in a series of exchanges, confrontations, and prevarications. Are the wife's suspicions unwarranted; is her behavior imperiling her marriage? Acts of kindness may go awry. And the trip to Dubai?
Hamid Farokhnezhad (Morteza), Hediyeh Tehrani (Mozhde Samiei), Taraneh Alidoosti (Roohi), Pantea Bahram (Simin), Sahar Dolatshahi, Hooman Seyadi (as Hooman Seyadi), Matin Heydarnia (Amir ali), Mehran Mahram, Behshad Sharifian
From the same director
Jamal Sadatian (producer)
I watched this film with a mixed group of people, some Iranians, some non-Iranians who had seen many Iranian films and some who had never seen an Iranian film before.
The ones who had never seen an Iranian film were amazed, thinking this is the greatest thing sine sliced bread. The rest merely liked the film. The first group was shocked by how good this thing is, probably unaware that Iran makes actual films (maybe thinking Iran just makes anti-US films?), but what amazed them is how real the story felt like and how different it is from anything they had seen before.
Yes, Iranian films are very realistic because they chose subjects that are not implausible to begin with. It's not difficult for Iranians to act roles of husband, wife, child, father, son, roles they actually play in real life. What's more difficult is to act roles they don't play in real life - Sassanian knight, medieval poet, secret agent, drug dealer, prisoner, etc.
This film's originality is because there are few Hollywood films (or even world films) like it. In that sense it is quite original. In another sense, it is very Iranian and there are quite a few Iranian films like it.
This movie is a slice of life into the lives of a married couple through the eyes of a cleaning lady who they also use for errands, as a babysitter, as a spy and as an alibi. She is a poor, simple and rural girl, and thorough her innocent eyes we see the lives of the upper middle class, how their financial security does not save them from living in a personal hell. It is a slice-of-life film taking place in a 16 hour period, a story that drops you gob smack in the middle of the story and leaves you without an ending.
That is my biggest problem with the film. I have no problem with a slice-of-life stories. I really love them. I have no particular problem with stories that don't have proper beginnings, that just start in the middle letting your brain connect the threads together, arranging the pieces of the puzzle as you get new bits of information. I actually think that this may be a better approach than an exposition at the start of the film - such as an introductory text, or overhearing a conversation that sets up the story in its entirety, i.e. something like "I think my husband is having an affair. I think it's the neighbor. I saw her number on our caller ID. Someone heard his voice on her answering machine. He also smells like a woman's perfume. Could you please spy on her for me?" That's a terrible way to start a film.
I'm also neutral on stories without a clear-cut ending. Or a story without a central character. But films like this are unsatisfying.
No beginning and no ending is a bit too much for me. It's as if you went to your friends house, a married couple, watched them fight for a few hours, get dragged into it, provide an alibi, and then leave. That's the movie.
Of course, there's more to it than that. This movie is a window into Iran, into the Iranian middle- class, into married life in general, into Tehran and into Newrouz. In 100 minutes, we get to see through this window into a country, a social class, a building, a nuclear family, a city and a festival. But we don't get to see a story. We overhear a story, we catch a glimpse of it, like seeing a couple fight in a restaurant. If you're there long enough, you'll hear the entire history of the couple, along with the lists of mistakes each of them has done, but you won't hear a conclusion. Contrast this with About Elly, which is also a slice-of-life film, but has a clear beginning and end.
The lack of conclusion is not the only flaw with this film. It's that this kind of film is not really original for Iran. Someone listening to a jazz song for the first time might think it's completely new, but when you hear more and more you realize that that piece may not have been all that original after all.
I want to see Iranian filmmakers challenge themselves, try to do something that is not just uncommon for world cinema, but uncommon even for Iranian cinema.
There are other weaknesses in this film - the music - the traditional music during the day festivities was good, the bandari songs played during the night festivities were good too, but the soundtrack (played during dramatic scenes) was not good. It was too loud and just not one of the better things from Iranian music. Iran has a rich history of music but there's a big disconnect between Iranian musicians and filmmakers. The only films that have great music are ones about musicians it seems.
Other than that, everything was excellent. Cinematography is brilliant. There are two scenes that stand out, Simin walking on the street and the car ride during Newrouz. A must watch for cinematography fans and film students.
Everything felt realistic. You never feel like anyone is acting. It feels more like a documentary than a stage play, which is a good thing.
It is a good film, but not really a must-watch.
Simin: Your wife would've preferred seeing you with a whore than with another woman.
Morteza: I'll call you when I get there.
Simin: I won't pick up the phone.
7 wins & 5 nominations
Chicago International Film Festival • Fajr Film Festival • Hamburg Film Festival • Kerala International Film Festival • Las Palmas Film Festival • Locarno International Film Festival • Nantes Three Continents Festival
Chaharshanbe-soori ((original title)) • Feuerzauber (Germany (TV title)) • La fête du feu (France) • Pyrotehnimata tin Protohronia (Greece (festival title)) • Pyrotehnimata tin Tetarti (Greece) • Perski Nowy Rok (Poland) • Фейерверки по средам (Russia) • Fireworks Wednesday (World-wide (English title))
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