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Martin I. Petrov


Cine-voyeur. Festival traveller currently based in Glasgow, UK. 

Festival director at WoFF: World of Film International Festival Glasgow. 

Festival Coordinator at MIAFF: Montreal International Animation Film Festival 

Writing reviews, articles and a passionate interview lover. 


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Melbourne, dir. Nima Javidi / Review

Numerous plastic bags filled with clothes and personal objects are drained until the very last airdrop is lost and their entire content appears withered, even more soulless than in its actual state. As the opening credits roll down, this stylistic symbol unpacks an array of thoughts and interpretations. 

We are transferred to a simple, but modern apartment in Tehran. A couple is packing. Amir (Payman Maadi) and Sara’s (Negar Javaherian) belongings, their lives and future are about to move away, to Melbourne. Counting down their last hours in Iran, the young couple already plans a new life in Ausstralia and greets friends and family. Sara even decided to do one last thing for their neighbours by taking care of their baby while the nanny is absent for otdoor work.  When Amir accidentally discovers that the child hasn’t moved at all in its sleep, agony and fear suddenly clouds the couple’s happiness. Is the child still alive? Was it their fault or the nanny disappeared deliberately, unable to take the shame and responsibility? 

Director Nima Javidi who counts many short films and TV commercials in his career, makes his feature debut with a contemporary Iranian drama, set entirely in an apartment, without bringing in any interactions with the outside world. Sara and Amir communicate with their friends over phone and Skype and receive some last visits before their departure, but the closed environment of the apartment creates an additional way of expressing their agony and asphyxiating fear. At the same time, the absence of purely original Iranian landscape is somehow a minus, making indifferent the character's origin and destination. Javidi does not give much details on the characters’ background and we never find out the reason of their departure from Iran, fact that is not essential for the storyline but that could possibly establish a stronger psychological connection with the viewer. 

As we follow the two characters moving around the flat like mice in a maze without real exit, they are confronted with each other's weaknesses and trapped in a game of guilt transfer. The sudden transformation of the atmosphere as if a shadow has risen upon their unprotected figures increases the tension, also kept by the emotional dialogues, the bold close ups and the persistent silence, disturbed only by the doorbell or the ringing phone. 

Quite far from the latest samples of social realist Iranian cinema seen by Panahi, Ghobadi or Farhadi, Melbourne shows another perspective of simplistic, low-budget filmmaking giving some important details about the lifestyle in contemporary Tehran, not much different from the western type. Touching upon serious aspects of family traditions, immigration and relationships, the film does not explore much of these in depth, focusing mostly on the monotonous dramatic momentum in Sara and Amir's life as they observe their dreams’ suffocation. 

Considering the traditionalism in Iranian filmmaking, the recent and ongoing socio-political movements against many contemporary Iranian artists and the shortage of resources, Nima Javidi's feature debut with a constantly moving image and well performed parts show a talent with certain potential for future development. 

 

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