Review: ‘The Paternal House’

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.

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.

The Paternal House

Iran

Production

An Abandad Film production. Produced by Kianoush Ayari, Ali Solteni. Executive producer, Shahrokh Dastoortabar. Directed, written by Kianoush Ayari.

Crew

Camera (color), Dariush Ayari; editor, Kianoush Ayari; music, Behzad Abdi; production designer/costume designer, Asghar Nejad Amini; sound, Saeed Salehi, Ali Hosseini, Mohammad Kashfi. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Horizons), Sept. 7, 2012. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Mehdi Hashemi, Shahab Hosseini, Mehran Rajabi, Naser Hashemi, Nazanin Farahani, Mina Sadati, Negah Khaghani, Mojdeh Hamrang, Setareh Mirmohammad, Padina Rahnama, Moeinodin Oshaghi.
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