The Iranian filmmaker signs one of those social suspenses of which he has the secret. A writing lesson so mastered that it stifles the emotion
After passing through Spain (Everybody knows who opened Cannes in 2018), here is Asghar Farhadi again in his native and favorite land, Iran, and in the register that made him king with A separation, this mixture of suspense and social chronicle where lies and manipulation reign supreme. All while starting, as always, from a hyper basic situation which will gradually devour its main character like metastases invading a body that is less and less resistant.
This one is called Rahim (brilliantly embodied by Amir Jadidi, candidate for the interpretation prize). Thrown in prison because of a debt he could not honor, he wants to take advantage of two days of leave to convince his creditor to withdraw his complaint against the payment of part of the sum. But nothing seems to help until his partner offers to pay him back … with the gold coins from a bag she found in the street. Saved by a theft that does not speak its name, like a lie by omission? The moral dilemma, always driving the story in Farhadi, can then unfold. And if Rahim ends up choosing to return this bag rather quickly while trying to find its owner, he has no idea that he has just put his finger in an infernal machine that will crush him. Because if by his altruistic gesture, he becomes a hero which everyone wants to benefit from the light, rumors will quickly cast doubt on his good faith and make him the man to kill, the bastard on duty. The famous “we lick, we let go, we lynch” in all its splendor
The relentless mechanics imagined by Farhadi are quite a feat. A story which, while appearing clear, constantly brings out elements which seem to contradict what we have seen. In this chronicle of the impossibility of a redemption where the same words and acts dubbed as heroic become proofs of your guilt, the spectator doubts everything and especially the obvious because suddenly, influenced by the change of ambient atmosphere, the smile that we found touching the hero becomes too mischievous to be honest!
This incredibly oiled mechanism questions both human cowardice and the ravages of rumor increased tenfold by social networks to deliver a vision of the devilish misanthropic world where any generous gesture ends up appearing suspicious. Under tension all the more permanent as its protagonists ultimately come to light only a little while after a while each scene could lead them there, A hero is not a lovable movie. Conversely, it is uneasy, unpleasant where the lie turns out to be a weapon that is equitably shared by the camp of good and the camp of evil, here united in an anything but Manichean gesture.
Such a perfectly oiled gear, however, has collateral damage: a cerebrality that stifles emotion. And it will be necessary to wait for a final magnificent shot (which we will not reveal to you of course) for it to emerge. But this regret does not prevent us from welcoming the incredible storyteller that is Farhadi, whose staging accompanies with sobriety (Rahim is most often filmed through windows, like a prisoner in a cage, even outside the walls of the prison, coming up against the bad faith of its interlocutors) this feeling of suffocation that invades you over the twists and turns of the story. Some will accuse him of digging the same furrow over and over again. What we rarely reproach the hard-core authors who have the card. Does being successful make you a suspect in autopilot driving power? This is a very “Fahradian” question!