A lyrical portrait of a remote Persian Gulf fishing village where smuggling of consumer products — and people — has changed the traditional way of life, “Be Calm and Count to Seven” marks the feature debut of notable directing talent Ramtin Lavafipour, who also wrote and produced. Grounded in documentary detail and full of startling physical action, pic calls to mind Mohammad Rasoulof’s “Iron Island” and Amir Naderi’s “The Runner.” Visually and aurally splendid, it should draw critical attention at an upcoming international fest.
Fearless Motu (Omid Abdollahi) belongs to a gang of youths who retrieve contraband from the sea, recklessly speeding their motorboats onto shore while silent chador-clad women unload the goods and disappear into mud-brick homes just ahead of pursuing police. Motu’s father has gone missing while transporting illegal human cargo, leaving his pregnant wife and daughter in the boy’s care. Meanwhile, the smugglers’ middleman (Heydayat Hashemi) struggles with a toothache and tense telephone calls from his wife in Tehran. Pic’s at its best when capturing action or merely observing the main characters; several lengthy dialogue scenes between boy and man feel forced. Dynamic cinematography leads the strong tech package.