Review: ‘The Common Plight’

U.S.-trained Iranian actress Jasmine Malek Nasser makes her directing bow with a small, four-actor drama, claustrophobically shot in a middle-class apartment in Tehran. Even if the classic Kammerspiel form gets a bit tiring, her portrait of a tormented woman writer is something new in post-revolutionary Iran , and pic has a modern, adult outlook that is quite refreshing. Women, in particular, will identify with the heroine. Pic is being actively marketed from the U.S. and should get to a lot of fests, with TV sales a logical leap.

U.S.-trained Iranian actress Jasmine Malek Nasser makes her directing bow with a small, four-actor drama, claustrophobically shot in a middle-class apartment in Tehran. Even if the classic Kammerspiel form gets a bit tiring, her portrait of a tormented woman writer is something new in post-revolutionary Iran , and pic has a modern, adult outlook that is quite refreshing. Women, in particular, will identify with the heroine. Pic is being actively marketed from the U.S. and should get to a lot of fests, with TV sales a logical leap.

Malek Nasser casts herself as sophisticated intellectual Fariba, who has suffered from writer’s block since her husband got fed up with her extra-domestic interests and walked. The action takes place at the house of her friends Firozeh (Farideh Saberi) and Syavash (Reza Kianian), latter an athlete now confined to a wheelchair. Though Syavash assures his wife that she and his painting are enough for him, the story of their dead child slowly emerges, casting doubt on their ostensible happiness.

The fourth at dinner is a morose doctor (Khosrow Shakibai) suffering from a broken heart since his wife left him. Short flashbacks help break pic out of the apartment’s walls and furnish important background info on the characters. But despite the best efforts of Fariba’s friends, she and the doctor find they have too much in common to make a match.

Malek Nasser is not afraid of seeming bitchy and neurotic in portraying a woman who has given up on the opposite sex; the same can be said for Shakibai’s disagreeable doctor, so wracked by his lost love that he has given up his medical practice. The fact that none of the four adults has children underlines how far “Plight” is from the charming innocence of the works of Abbas Kiarostami and pics like “The White Balloon” that have made New Iranian Cinema famous.

Cinematographer Mohammad Aladpoush does some fancy shooting to keep the camera moving in a confined space. Editing is tight.

The Common Plight

(IRANIAN)

Production

An Omid Film production. Produced by Mahmood K. Hakak. Directed, written by Jasmine Malek Nasser.

Crew

Camera (color), Mohammad Aladpoush; editor, Zhila Ipakchi; music, Kayvan Jahanshahi; sound, Jahangir Mirshekari. Reviewed at Film Festival of India (competing), Delhi, Jan. 20, 1996 . Running time: 81 MIN.

With

The Doctor ... Khosrow Shakibai Fariba ... Jasmine Malek Nasser Syavash ... Reza Kianian Firozeh ... Farideh Saberi
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