A family’s honor killing haunts multiple generations in vet helmer Kianoush Ayari’s disappointingly flat “The Paternal House.” Lacking the power of his earthquake drama “Wake Up, Arezoo!” the pic is a standard-issue sudser without enough of a pro-woman message to propel it beyond home territories, though Iranian censors were unhappy with the director’s cut and threatened to boycott Venice. The surprisingly uneven thesping can probably be blamed on the pedestrian script, though embarrassingly inept subtitles on the Lido prevented fair consideration. Even fest play will be limited.
In 1929, Kabal (Mehran Rajabi) and his young son kill his daughter for an unspecified dishonor, burying the body in the cellar workshop of their rug enterprise. They tell the family she ran away, but in 1946, her mother Masumeh (Nazanin Farahani) learns the truth. Tragedy keeps plaguing the clan, so Kabal walls up the room in 1981, yet the crime won’t remain buried. Ayari introduces each time period (ending in 1996) at the door of the family complex, and action remains within the courtyard and cellar. Limiting the locale connects the decades, but lack of nuance and lifeless uniform lighting hamper appreciation.