A police sergeant and the prisoner he’s bringing to justice are stranded in the holy city of Mashhad during a snowstorm in made-for-TV meller “The Night.” The first of a pilgrimage-themed trilogy directed by Rasoul Sadrameli (“I Am Taraneh, 15”) and commissioned by Iranian broadcasting, it’s most notable for its views of the inner sanctum of Imam Reza’s shrine and juicy perfs from a powerhouse cast. Strictly for domestic consumption, vid-shot pic resembles an American soap with its over-bright, bare-bones visuals.
Cuffed together and bickering, ulcer-ridden cop Mohsen (Amin Hayayee, named Fajr fest’s best actor) and jovial con man Parviz (eightysomething screen legend Ezzatollah Entezami, looking far younger than his years) bunk down in a pilgrim’s hostel where the pious innkeeper (Khosro Shakibai at his most eccentric) aids them both. Spiritually correct but highly improbable O. Henry-style ending satisfies both Parviz’s desire to sanctify a shroud for his mother at the shrine and Mohsen’s wish to successfully conclude his mission. Pic epitomizes the Iran Ministry of Culture’s new policy of luring well-known talent to the smallscreen with handsome salaries and budgets rather than providing resources for feature filmmaking.