You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Day Break

A condemned man's wrenching wait for his own execution works like a ticking time bomb in Hamid Rahmanian's flawed but impressive debut feature, "Day Break." Tautness and single-minded focus will serve the pic well as buyers consider it for various upscale territories, possibly including the U.S.

With: Hossein Yari, Zabih Afshar, Atash Taghipour, Hoda Naseh, Maryam Amir-Jalali.

A condemned man’s wrenching wait for his own execution works like a ticking time bomb in Hamid Rahmanian’s flawed but impressive debut feature, “Day Break.” As many Iranian cineastes are cleverly managing, Rahmanian takes the basis of an actual Islamic law — permitting the family of a murder victim to personally carry out the execution of the convicted murderer — as profound material for a spare and almost unbearably tense drama. Tautness and single-minded focus will serve the pic well as buyers consider it for various upscale territories, possibly including the U.S.

Awakened on what appears to be the day of his execution in Tehran’s aging, decrepit Ghasr prison, Mansour (Hossein Yari, in a thoroughly dominating perf) looks like a dead man walking. But even as a fellow condemned man is hanged, the family of his murder victim fails to appear; he can only be executed, or spared, at the behest of the family. Their absence only prolongs his unsettled fate.

Process is guaranteed to shock Western auds unaware of internal Iranian law, raising yet again the terrible irony that what is certainly backward and repressive for Iranian citizens is dramatic fodder for Iranian storytellers. Docu vet Rahmanian’s attempt to depict Mansour’s situation as a documentary, complete with hand-held cameras and filming equipment crowding in on the execution chamber never convinces. But it’s dispensed with after the first reel, giving way to a marvelously tense focus on Mansour, his day-to-day existence in the prison (looking like the male version of the setting in “Women’s Prison”) and his thoughts back on his civilian life and the killing that sent him here in the first place. Little exposition is verbalized, making “Day Break” a fine example of a cinematic investigation of one man’s thoughts.

There’s little doubt Mansour is guilty, but the inhuman torture of postponing his day of decision again and again and again has the effect of upstaging his terrible act. Yari brilliantly humanizes this man trapped between his own sense of guilt and an existential condition that screams out for release — either the family’s pardon, or their carrying out his sentence.

With Byrom Fazli’s brown-hued lensing and Ebramim Saeedi’s sharp editing, pic effectively shifts between the sepulchral conditions of the prison and Mansour’s memories of the outside world.

Day Break


Production: A Prometheus Cinema production. (International sales: Sheherazad Media Intl., Tehran.) Produced by Hamid Rahmanian. Executive producer, Vahid Nikkhah Azad. Directed, written by Hamid Rahmanian.

Crew: Camera (color), Byrom Fazli; editor, Ebrahim Saeedi; music, David Bergeaud; production designer, Ahmad Saket; costume designer, Saket; makeup, Reza Rodmanesh; sound, Tony Volante; supervising sound editor, Saeedi. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Discovery), Sept. 9, 2005. Running time: 81 MIN.

With: With: Hossein Yari, Zabih Afshar, Atash Taghipour, Hoda Naseh, Maryam Amir-Jalali.

More Film

  • Nadine Labaki

    Cannes: Nadine Labaki to Head Un Certain Regard Jury

    Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki has been named president of the jury for Un Certain Regard in Cannes. The Festival said Labaki had been chosen after “moving hearts and minds at the last Festival de Cannes with her Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated ‘Capernaum,’ which won the Jury Prize.” The organizers noted Labaki’s films have all [...]

  • Osmosis

    Netflix Unveils Four More French Originals, 'Gims,' 'Anelka,' 'Move,' 'Of Earth And Blood'

    As it prepares to open a fully-staffed office in France and ramp up its investment in local originals, Netflix has unveiled three new documentaries, “Move” (working title), “Gims” (working title), and “Anelka” (working title), and the feature film “Of Earth And Blood” while at Series Mania in Lille. Announced during a panel with Netflix’s commissioning [...]

  • Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home

    Film News Roundup: Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home for Christmas'

    In today’s film news roundup, “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas” is in the works, the NFL has made a documentary about female team owners and D Street Pictures has signed Kenny Gage and Devon Downs to direct the dance feature “Move.” HOLIDAY PROJECT Miramax has acquired film rights to Lauren Iungerich’s holiday-themed screenplay “I [...]

  • Michael B. Jordan arrives at the

    Michael B. Jordan to Star in Warner Bros.' 'Methuselah' Movie

    Michael B. Jordan will produce and star in a “Methuselah” movie for Warner Bros., based on the Biblical story of a man who lived to be 969 years old. Jordan will produce through his Outlier Society production company along with Heyday’s David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford. Warner Bros. has been developing the project for many [...]

  • Davids Chief Piera Detassis on Revamping

    Davids Chief Piera Detassis on Revamping Italy's Top Film Awards

    Piera Detassis recently became the first woman to head the David di Donatello Awards, Italy’s equivalent of the Oscars. Since then she’s been busy overhauling the inner workings of the prizes that will be awarded on Wednesday. Detassis, also the editor of Italian film publication Ciak, spoke exclusively to Variety about the challenges she’s faced [...]

  • Matteo Garrone's 'Dogman' Leads Davids Awards

    Matteo Garrone's 'Dogman' Leads Davids Awards Race

    With 15 nominations Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman” leads the pack of contenders for Italy’s David di Donatello Awards in a watershed year for the country’s top film nods that sees highbrow auteur titles reaping most of the David love just as local box-office grosses hit an all-time low. Garrone’s gritty revenge drama is followed closely with [...]

  • steven spielberg Apple TV Plus

    Steven Spielberg's Apple Appearance Riles Up Social Media: 'Big Old Mixed Message'

    Many Hollywood heavyweights flocked to Apple’s Cupertino, Calif. headquarters to help reveal the tech giant’s revamped steaming service Apple TV+ on Monday — but one such legend was so polarizing he became a national trending topic on Twitter for simply showing his face. Steven Spielberg was the first to appear in a dramatic short film [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content