“Gradually” is a confused tale about a man pressured by society to ostracize his mentally ill wife when she goes roaming without his permission. Like helmer Maziar Miri’s first entry “Unfinished Song,” which questioned the ban on women singers in Iran, the idea has far more potential than the filmmaker is able to realize. When not sliding into melodrama, the film hedges toward mystery, but ends up just being perversely complicated and uninvolving. A major re-edit is in order before it will be shippable.
Mahmoud is a railway welder who genuinely loves his wife Pari. When he learns she’s been missing from their home for more than a week, he leaves his job to search for her. Miri paints a bleak picture of the rude, uncaring, malicious people he meets. Since a runaway wife is a terrible humiliation, he happily identifies a faceless corpse as Pari. The narration is much too slow to make this interesting, while a parallel tale about some kids who discover a tape recording adds nothing to the final scenes. Composer Mohammad-Reza Darvishi tips his hat to Bernard Herrmann in an occasionally Hitchcockian score.
To read Variety‘s review of the 2006 re-edited version click here.