Tehran’s Law: an impressive societal thriller [critique]

Panorama of the crack trade in Tehran through the mirrored portraits of a cop and a thug. A big uppercut, seen and approved by William Friedkin.

Just 6.5, the international title of Tehran Law, refers to the 6.5 million crack users in Iran today, where addiction to “pebbles” seems to become more and more massive every day. A scourge which is accompanied by a local legal specificity: whether you hold 30 grams or 30 kilos, the sentence will be the same: the death penalty. Which explains why, even if it means losing everything, some traffickers prefer to play big… So much for the documentary context, which forms the background of this second feature film by Saeed Roustaee, 32 years old. The dramatic argument is tied around the war of nerves between an obsessive policeman and the big hat he has just shut up. The mirrored portraits of a cop and a thug are an old anthem of the thriller, here blasted by the setting where most of their confrontation takes place: a suffocating prison, overcrowded with drug addicts, shown like a kind of zombie horde dazed. Staggering decor that offers Roustaee the opportunity for striking crowd scenes.

The whole film is also striking with its extremely inventive use of places, such as this landmark of traffickers invested by the police at the beginning of the film. To get in, the cops have to smash down a door, then another, and yet another … The film proceeds in the same way, constantly adding new layers to its story, nuances, new layers of meaning, to better pass from the thriller goes inside to the psychological study, then to the societal fresco. Impressive.

By Saeed Roustaee. With Payman Maadi, Navid Mohammadzadeh, Houmaan Kiaie… Duration 2h14. Release July 28, 2021

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