Writer-director Hassan Hedayat suffuses his latest police drama, "Twilight," with wintry melancholy and obsessions about death that lack development. Hedayat continues the adventures of bedraggled police detective Mohammad Alavi. Average local B.O. take will be matched by a quiet Stateside four-wall run.

Writer-director Hassan Hedayat suffuses his latest police drama, “Twilight,” with wintry melancholy and obsessions about death that, although initially fascinating, lack development. In this pic, Hedayat continues the adventures of bedraggled police detective Mohammad Alavi, previously played by crafty thesp Ahmad Najafi, who starred in Alavi films such as “The Last Port” and the TV series “The Detective.” In a twist for this farewell to Alavi, vet actor Ezzatollah Entezami is the dying sleuth, while Najafi is his nemesis. Average local B.O. take will be matched by a quiet Stateside four-wall run.

Alavi, slowed by age and grief over the (never explained) death of his wife and two young daughters, works the homicide beat in the forlorn burg of Port Anzali. He is called on to investigate the murder of an older woman whose corpse is found on the beach along with a photo that has phone numbers for a cafe and for Alavi’s home on it.

The cafe is owned by Hajar (Behnaz Moharrar), and local crime kingpin Darbandi (Najafi) wants to buy it from her. Alavi’s refusal to cave in and accept Darbandi’s graft make him a kind of hero, but the sleuth’s passivity and gradually unhinged mental state make him an eccentric rooting interest at best.

Alavi’s dead wife Farangis (Ghaziani), repeatedly appears before him looking caring and concerned. The suggestion of loss pulling one toward death is a fine dramatic idea, but Hedayat works and re-works the theme until it loses impact — and he fails to connect it to the murder case.Entezami and Najafi, however, bring extensive experience to their perfs that add depth to the story.

Winter chill is exquisitely captured by lenser Hossein Maleki, whose shots convey the sense of life fading away.

Twilight

Iran

Production

An Iranian Film Society and N.E.J. Intl. Pictures release (in U.S.) of a Sima Film production. Produced, directed, written, edited by Hassan Hedayat.

Crew

Camera (Ershad Film Lab color), Hossein Maleki; music, Hassan Zandbaf; production designer, Mohammad Sadegh Aazin . Reviewed at Laemmle Royal Theater, L.A., Aug. 13, 2003. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

Mohammad Alavi - Ezzatollah Entezami Darbandi - Ahmad Najafi Hajar Hengameh - Behnaz Moharrar Farangis - Ghaziani
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