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Cannes, Iranian curtain call with Forushande (The Salesman)
Alex Deleon <film festivals.com>
The final Cannes competition film on closing night Sunday May 22 was the latest offering from the best known Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi, whose tense family drama, "A Separation" won the foreign language Academy Award in 2014.
His new film, "Forushande" (The Salesman, or "The Client" in French) presented here in the official Competition section, is an extreme shaggy dog story that is not going to inspire anything but yawns and seat squirming. Sharply lensed as are all Iranian films these days and earnestly if unconvincingly acted, this is a tedious story about a young married couple involved in a small theater production in Teheran of Arthur Millers Death of a Salesman -- whence the original title. They have to move into a makeshift apartment when the building where they originally lived in is threatened with collapse at the beginning of the picture.
The apartment they temporarily take over formerly belonged to a prostitute, it turns out, who received her clientele there.
One night a regular former client comes up for some fun and games but is so miffed to find the actress wife there instead of the whore he desires that he clubs her over the head from behind and sends her to the hospital. (whether he actually did anything else is not made clear but perhaps vaguely hinted at as an unmentionable collateral possibility). She is now in a state of constant fear because she didn't actually see her assailant, is too ashamed to make a police report, and fears he may return.
The rest of the picture is devoted to the devoted husband's determined tracking down of the unknown client who perturbed his wife to the point where she is now a nervous wreck.
However, Dirty Harry he is not and his vengeance when he finds his man will get very lumpy to say the least. This is the kind of picture that gets more and more boring as it trudges along for two tedious hours to a dippy conclusion but keeps you from walking out only because you want to find out who this mysterious attacker will finally turn out to be -- and then it leads to a lengthy lethargic letdown, the point perhaps being vaguely conveyed
that vengeance isn't always worth the effort it takes to achieve. Mushy muddled morality at best. Well, even monkeys sometimes fall from trees.
At the closing ceremony on Sunday night the pitiful script of "Forushande" was incomprehensibly awarded the Best Scenario prize and Lead actor Shahab Hosseini received the "Masculine Interpretation" award for his sincere effort in a lost cause. Something must have been gained by this Jury in translation from the Farsi
The Bulletin Board
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