Absurdism can be a metaphor or a contrivance, and most auds braving Mohammad Shirvani’s unappetizing “Fat Shaker” will put it in the latter camp. The opening scene illustrates the title, showing an obese man being thoroughly jiggled, then cupped and leeched until the blood runs through his back hairs. No doubt programmers and certain Rotterdam festival jurors, who awarded this a prize, will try explaining how these scenes relate to Iran now. Most viewers, however, will conclude Shirvani is visualizing insignificant dreams with no metaphorical value, and ankle before the live turkey appears.After his fat gets shaken, the man (Levon Haftvan) intimidates women in a car, implying he’s part of the morality police by questioning why an unrelated deaf guy (Hassan Rostami) is with them. It’s all a scam: The guy is his son, and Dad’s threats are to get hush money from the ladies. Later on he’s questioned at home by cops — here’s where the turkey comes in — investigating his relationship to a mysterious woman (Maryam Palizban). The handheld lensing is hardly cutting-edge, but could be forgiven if the surrealism had made genuine statements about patriarchy and power.
A Mohammad Shirvani production. Produced, directed, written by Mohammad Shirvani.
Camera (color, HD), Shirvani; editors, Shirvani, Pouya Parsamagham; production designer, Shirvani; sound, Vahid Moghadasi; sound designer, Bahman Ardalan; assistant directors, Shiva Ebrahimi, Jalal Vafaee, Armin Shirvani, Sohrab Alawi. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (competing), Jan. 26, 2013. (Also in Sundance Film Festival -- New Frontier.) Running time: 84 MIN.
Levon Haftvan, Maryam Palizban, Hassan Rostami, Navid Mohammadzadeh.