You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Trapped’

No special knowledge is necessary to empathize with the plucky heroine in Parviz Shahbazi's tense, resonant drama.


Nazanin Bayati, Pegah Ahangarani, Behrang Alavi, Farid Samavati, Ahmad Mehranfar, Amir Samavati.

A cautionary tale of universal resonance, “Trapped” spins a tension-filled drama about a naive but highly principled young woman from the provinces who comes to Tehran to study medicine, only to wind up in a legal nightmare due to her kind and trusting nature. Iranian helmer Parviz Shahbazi turns the present-day relationship linking university, bazaar and government into subtext, but no special knowledge is necessary to empathize with the dilemma the plucky heroine finds herself in. After nabbing best director kudos at the 2013 Fajr Film Festival, the ripe-for-remake pic has been traveling the global circuit.

The problems of medical student Nazanin (Nazanin Bayati, sympathetic) start when she can’t get an immediate place in the university dorm. She winds up sharing an off-campus apartment with the slightly older, much more worldly Sahar (the excellent Pegah Ahangarani, winner of Fajr’s supporting actress kudo), a perfume salesgirl who is thinking about leaving the country. Sahar bowls Nazanin over with her casual, seemingly forthright manner.

Even though a quick glance shows that Sahar isn’t remotely what one would call a good housekeeper, Nazanin’s need for lodging is urgent and the location is good, so she hands over the hefty security deposit that Sahar requests. But soon after she moves in, Nazanin discovers that Sahar is not only an incorrigible slob who’s happy to let her new roommate do the cooking and cleaning, but that she also keeps an open house for a variety of noisy, smoking, male friends.

Modest Nazanin, who clearly comes from a background where the sexes do not mix in this way, feels terribly uncomfortable and unhappy. Not only has her first independent adult decision — about where to live — turned out poorly, making it difficult for her to study, but she must continually fight not to be taken advantage of by the families of the kids she agrees to tutor. Nevertheless, when Sahar is put in prison for non-payment of a debt, only Nazanin is willing to help. As Nazanin is drawn further into the web of deceit surrounding her roommate, surprising twists and turns ultimately force her to confront a rich, corrupt merchant from the bazaar.

Helmer Shahbazi’s compelling screenplay offers an intelligent dissection of the power dynamics of personal relationships, as well as an incisive portrait of how political and economic conditions influence the lives of Iranian youth today. Although his narrative may not be as sophisticated as those of compatriot Asghar Farhadi’s “About Elly” or “A Separation,” it also poses provocative moral questions.

While Shahbazi often cast non-pros in his earlier films, “Trapped,” his fifth and most domestically popular feature, benefits immensely from the smart and sensitive performances of an all-pro cast, particularly the two femme leads. Ahangarani (the activist daughter of femme helmer Manijeh Hekmat) is particularly strong in a difficult part.

The atmospheric tech package brings to life a Tehran very different from that which outsiders are accustomed to seeing. The surprising music track, credited as “selective,” opens with the Cat Stevens song “Father and Son,” the significance of which only becomes clear at the pic’s end.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'Trapped'

Reviewed at Gothenburg Film Festival (Five Continents), Feb. 2, 2014. (Also in 2013 Fajr, Vancouver, Chicago film festivals.) Running time: 92 MIN. Original title: “Dar band”


(Iran) A Farabi Cinema Foundation production. Produced by Amir Samavati. (International sales: Farabi Cinema Foundation, Tehran.)


Directed, written, edited by Parviz Shahbazi. Camera (color, HD), Hooman Behmanesh; production designer/costume designer, Keyvan Moghaddam; sound (stereo), Mansour Shahbazi, Hossein Abolsedgh.


Nazanin Bayati, Pegah Ahangarani, Behrang Alavi, Farid Samavati, Ahmad Mehranfar, Amir Samavati.

More Film

  • Amanda

    ‘Amanda’ Takes Home Best Int’l Film at 15th Sanfic

    SANTIAGO, Chile    French director Mikhael Hers’ “Amanda” scooped up the Best Int’l Film award Saturday (Aug. 24) at the 15th Santiago Int’l Film Fest (Sanfic), which reported a 20% audience uptick in the past two years and continues to grow its reputation as the most vibrant and prominent film festival in Latin America’s Southern [...]

  • disney d23

    Cruella, Kit Harington and Black Panther's Return: Everything We Learned at D23 Day Two

    Not to be outdone by the avalanche of series orders and casting announcements bolstering the new streaming series Disney Plus, Walt Disney Studios showed off its film wares in a marathon presentation at D23 on Saturday. The Anaheim, Calif. expo brought star power, if perhaps fewer surprises than Friday’s presentation, as fans in princess and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

  • Breaking Bad Movie

    'Breaking Bad' Movie: Watch the First Teaser for 'El Camino'

    In case you hadn’t heard, Emmy-winning drama “Breaking Bad” is cooking up a movie sequel. On Saturday, after details of Netflix’s project quietly leaked online, the streaming giant issued the first teaser for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will be released on October 11. Starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the “Breaking Bad” [...]

  • Samara Weaving and Adam Brody Big

    'Ready or Not': That Time Samara Weaving Hit Andie MacDowell in the Face

    Samara Weaving didn’t mean to hurt Andie MacDowell, but she did just that while they were rehearsing for their new horror dark comedy “Ready or Not.” “I hit Andie MacDowell in the face by accident,” Weaving says on this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast. “It was horrible. It was [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • Tom Holland'Spider-Man: Homecoming' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Tom Holland Addresses Spider-Man’s Studio Divorce at D23: ‘I Love You 3000’

    British actor Tom Holland showed face on the main stage at D23 on Saturday, in the thick of an ugly studio battle over the rights to his iconic Marvel character Spider-Man. Headlines have been rolling in for days about the contentious battle for the cinematic future of the hero, after Sony Pictures became unwilling to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content