Run time: 94 mins
Writer-director Panah Panahi makes a striking debut in this beautifully acted Iranian road trip drama.
Heading north from Tehran, Farid is driving his mother, father and younger brother; a hyperactive bundle of opinions and nonstop activity. His mother is concealing the nature of the trip from the youngster; the truth is that they’re taking Farid to be smuggled over the border to safety. As they bond over memories of the past and grapple with fears of the unknown, they must all prepare for a life that will never be the same once they get home.
The four actors give remarkably thoughtful performances, balanced with the characters’ specific senses of humour. Stuck together in their car, they are each revealed to be complex, observant and deeply emotional, even as they maintain their ability to make each other laugh. As Panahi quietly captures the shifting landscape outside, various stops along the road also introduce an assortment of random people who add another layer of humour and irony to the situation. Exploring life in present-day Iran while also touching on universal human themes, it’s a charming, sharp-witted and deeply moving 90 minutes.