Iran. Good movie. Recommended. This is a movie in which somehow, and I really can’t say exactly how, the audience just knows something is wrong, not as it seems. A suspense movie. What the audience does know is also pretty wrong. Its set in an extremely specific time and place. Iran, June of 2009. During the Green Revolution. Even more specifically, all of the action in the movie takes place in the main character’s apartment. He never leaves. We don’t really know why he is holed up. This is a terrific premise for a suspense movie, and it is carried off very well. Massive protests are happening outside his window. There are a number of scenes shot on cell phones of what was plainly actual video from the protests showing the cops doing what cops do in those situations, huge numbers of people marching and the like. People come and go from the apartment, including a beautiful and mysterious stranger, and he has phone conversations, but we have a hard time figuring out his deal until the story decides to reveal it. A very satisfying movie experience.
The thing about Iran is that the people who live there are to a great degree not at all into all the religious stuff. Just the opposite. They are regular people who dress like us and just want to have a nice apartment an a decent job. Nicest people you could hope to meet.
Iran under the Shah was a pretty open place, politics aside. Women were encouraged to get an education, people in the cities dressed and acted like middle class people in Europe, and the religious bigots had little power. Because no one but the Shah had power. He was an asshole, a puppet of the US which had overthrown a different election and installed him, the better to get Iran’s oil. He was a typical stupid dictator. He made hash of the economy and civil society. He was hated. When the Iranians could, they got rid of him, in 1979. The people who were best organized were the religious fanatics, because the Shah’s secret police, SAVAK, had imprisoned or murdered the secular opposition, and the army was corrupt. Also, Khomeini was a famous exiled dissident, and pulled a fast one on his return after the Shah was deposed. So the religious nuts took over.
In 2009 the Iranians voted in a fellow named Mousavi for President, he was secular but had been in the government until he crossed the religious party once too often. So, the government transparently stole the election; which is how one of our favorite nutcases, Ahmadinejad, got into power. There were massive protests that grew every day. It was the first protest movement that made creative use of the internet and Twitter. It was put down by a massive Tiananmen style show of force. The world just watched it happen. The point of the protests was not just the election, it was desperately wanting to become a regular country.
This is the backdrop of the film. Our main character is secular, professional, probably pretty well off. Its not so surprising he is not in the streets, but what is his deal, we wonder.