Saeed Roustaee takes a cruel but lucid look at the moral and economic disorders of a family and his country. It’s dense and always exciting, even if we end up more impressed by the relentless narrative mechanics than totally moved by the fate of this dysfunctional sibling.
After the social thriller get inside (Tehran law), the great family fresco: change of register therefore for Saeed Roustaee, but certainly no tone. This time it is a question of auscultating the economic dilapidation which rages in Iran (unsurprisingly, the film was banned there) by means of a sibling undermined by unemployment and poverty. And by the stubbornness of a father who prefers to devote his hoard (forty gold coins), amassed without everyone knowing, to a donation for the wedding of a cousin of the family (who nevertheless has always despised) and thus become its patriarch, the patriarch we consult, the one we listen to and respect, rather than helping our children in a real estate buyout project capable of getting them back on their feet.
Dense in its themes (omnipotence of money, impoverishment of the middle class, patriarchy, education, generational schisms…), in the construction of its story and the characterization of its characters, Leila and her brothers leads us into a (hellish) spiral of disillusions, lies and truths upsetting the already fragile balance of this family on the verge of implosion. Balance that Leila alone seems to carry (her chronic back pain then resounding like the metaphor, certainly a little easy, of this stability, even precarious, which she maintains as best she can). And who tries, between a cantankerous father, a mother who doesn’t love him and four picky brothers, to find solutions to survive in the chaos of a raging economic crisis (a tweet of Trump is enough, for example, in a few minutes, to devalue the Iranian currency).
It’s through her, through her strength, her desire for emancipation and her certainties (Leila never gives up, never seems to doubt or flinch, and if she suddenly flinches, for a moment, immediately she pulls herself together, gives of the voice, returns to the fight), that Roustaee takes this cruel but lucid look at the dysfunctions of this family and his country (“For several years, since the second term of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, every day we face economic disasters […] We are experiencing an extraordinary collapse which damages bodies, souls, and which affects human relations. has explained Roustaee). A look that he accompanies with a precise staging, fluid in the incessant dynamic between the different protagonists, ample also in the two major movements of the film engaging the action (inaugural movement during the violent evacuation of a factory) then raising the stakes (central movement during the lavish wedding ceremony).
The only real problem with the film, if we can call it a “problem”, rather an observation as it stands, is that it comes after those ofAsghar Farhadi. And thus give the impression, in the face of Leila and her brothersto watch a Farhadi XXL power where the scriptwriting springs carry away everything in their path, impose themselves in the sequence, in the multiplication of dramas, anger and revelations. So much so that we end up more impressed by this implacable narrative mechanics deployed (and held brilliantly) for almost three hours than totally moved, but still a little, by the fate of this family as condemned to never be able to, extricate himself from his condition.