A wannabe poet forced to make his living as a street cleaner in Tehran searches for meaning, dignity and love in the slender but engaging “Poet of the Wastes.” Feature bow by Iranian producer, lenser and documaker Mohammad Ahmadi (“Captive, Waiting”) is scripted by frequent collaborator Mohsen Makhmalbaf and fits neatly into the established Iranian neo-realist mold. While yarn feels a little forced and its resolution is unfulfilling, pic looks certain for more fest slots. Arthouse distribs will also want to take a look.
An unnamed young nebbish (Farzin Mohades), struggling as a street cleaner, comes across rejected poems by a housebound writer (Mohammad Eskandari) and the first drafts of letters written by a woman (Leila Hatami) to her brother. Anonymously delivering the poems to the woman’s house, the cleaner attempts to win her heart by passing them off as his own. Pic accurately catches the desperation of working poverty but Mohades’ whining voice soon grates. Hatami’s turn as the woman is boosted by the enchanting music of Tajikistani composer Dalir Nazarov (“Luna Papa”) that coincides with the actress’s every appearance. Helming and all tech credits are clean.