A road trip through Iran’s vast rural spaces achieves an unlikely claustrophobia in wry black comedy “Mourning,” young helmer Morteza Farshbaf’s debut feature. Developed and expanded from “The Wind Blows Wherever It Wants,” a short Farshbaf co-wrote and co-directed with Anahita Ghazvinizadeh, the project initially emerged from film workshops run by Abbas Kiarostami, and it shows. Pic already has clocked some festival mileage, and niche distribution could follow if adventurous distribs work the Kiarostami marketing angle.
Farshbaf announces his playful intentions from the get-go with an interior shot shrouded in darkness, showing a couple arguing before driving off into the night. Next, as an SUV purrs through an empty landscape, subtitles indicate a man and woman are conversing, although no voices are audible. When Kamran (Kiomars Giti) and Sharareh (Sharareh Pasha) are finally introduced, it’s revealed that their dialogue has been conducted in sign language, and that the deaf couple are driving to Tehran with their young nephew (Amir Hossein Maleki) for the funeral of the boy’s parents. Vivid use of landscape and naturalistic perfs from non-professional actors elevate this modestly engaging tale, likely to be categorized as Kiarostami Lite.