“Exhausted” is wearying indeed. Shot from the p.o.v. of a gravely ailing and mostly immobile old man, this rare pic from Iraq succumbs to the crude filmmaking of first-time feature director Ebrahim Saeedi. The plight of Iranian Kurds, subject of several fine documentaries, amounts here to didactic drama, as the movie coarsely follows an extended family in its Herculean effort to drive a dying patriarch through battle-scarred Iraq to his home in Iran. The film’s understandable limitations too seldom translate into poignancy, as shrill acting, nonexistent plotting and gimmicky shooting drive “Exhausted” to death. Sales will be similarly pooped.
Opening in Iraq circa 2004, the film reveals — through the old man’s tired eyes, and conversation to which he can’t respond — that his niece Sheelan (Rojan Mahamad Jaza) wants to take him to her home in Sweden, while his son Shaho (Shahab Fazili) prefers to drive him to Iran. The film’s vast majority takes place in the back of Shaho’s van, where the old man watches as landmines, terrorists and Iraqi police threaten the family’s progress. Poor tech credits rep less of a problem than the pic’s impoverished imagination.