Fat Shaker

Fat Shaker


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

When you come to look at your notes after a screening and there are more question marks than conclusions, you know you are in tricky territory - in fact, Fat Shaker is so incomprehensible it makes fellow Iranian cryptic offerings Taboor and The White Meadows look like Janet and John books by comparison.

Despite being memorable for its weight of unpleasant imagery - from leaches crawling over skin before being summarily drenched in salt so that they fall in an oozing, bloody puddle to the floor, to a full and fully pointless scene of a man sitting next to a toilet bowl smeared with his own recent vomit - it is utterly forgettable in every other regard. After it premiered at Sundance it was branded in fundamentalist quarters as "anti-Iranian" - what is certainly not in doubt is that it is "anti-viewer".

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Mohammad Shirvani is at pains to keep us at arm's length, offering not so much as a toe-hold in terms of narrative or sympathetic characters. The action revolves around the corpulent excesses of a man (Levon Haftvan), who treats his deaf-mute son (Navid Mohammadzadeh) like a skivvy. In between episodes of physical abuse, his son tends to his father's whims and acts as his accomplice in cash cons. A third character, a photographer (Maryam Palizban) becomes involved with this dysfunctional pair in ways that take the film further into the realms of incomprehension.

If his wilfully opaque story weren't enough on its own, Shirvani also slices and dices time to such an extent that it also becomes the viewer's enemy. He may be striving to say something about patriarchy but he seems to think that all that is required to make a piece of absurd cinema is to let a turkey wander through a scene. Having suffered through the entire runtime with not one sliver of enlightenment, that bird comes to symbolise the whole enterprise.

Reviewed on: 05 Jul 2013
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Story of a man and his abusive father.

Director: Mohammad Shirvani

Writer: Mohammed Shirvani

Starring: Levon Haftvan, Maryam Palizban, Navid Mohammadzadeh

Year: 2013

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: Iran

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