Dog Sweat

Dog Sweat


Reviewed by: Leanne McGrath

This provocative movie intertwines the lives of six young Iranians at odds with the strict and oppressive Islamic society they live in. They rebel and seek to escape the unfair confines of modern-day Tehran.

A young couple is desperate to be alone without the threat of the morality police, a woman longs to sing but females are banned from performing, a gay man is being forced to marry, another man’s sole ambition is to drink with his buddies and a feminist is having an affair with her cousin’s husband.

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As a Westerner, it is difficult to think about Iranians being preoccupied with sex and boozing but Dog Sweat claims this is the real face of the country’s youth - one usually hidden by a media controlled by a religious fundamentalist government that only allows images of a pious populace.

The movie was shot clandestinely in Tehran to give the restless new generation a voice - everyone who participated took a great risk to avoid censorship and punishment.

In Iran, two thirds of the population is under 30. This generation grew up being taught to revere the ayatollahs and be pious but are influenced by the West and its freedom. Traditional and modern cultures are at odds and there is a conflict between family and societal expectations and individual desires, represented by the characters’ range of experiences.

Take Mahsa, who dreams of being a singer in a country where female vocalists are banned. All her mother wants is for her to get married to a rich man. Will she follow her dream or give in to societal pressures?

We also meet gay couple Homan and Hooshang, who are permanently together but cannot be open about their relationship. The latter is also under pressure to marry.

Pretty Katie hates the way her brother is fawned upon by her parents while she, a girl, takes second place. She hates being unable to do what she wants and rebels by having an affair with her cousin’s rich husband.

We also meet Massoud, who spends his days drinking with his buddies - until his mom is in a car crash and he faces up to the reality of rundown hospitals and a police force more interested in whether people are dressed appropriately than keeping them safe.

Shot in an unobstrusive, ‘cinema verite’, documentary style, the film never pushes its politics down the viewer’s throat, rather presents a picture of the conflicts ordinary people deal with daily. Most points are insinuated, such as the gay relationship, rather than made explicit, probably due to the oppressive environment.

Not all of the characters are likeable but you do feel sympathy for their struggles, although there are perhaps too many of them, so none are explored with any great depth.

Reviewed on: 24 Mar 2011
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Six Iranian youngsters rebel against Islamic rule in Tehran.
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Director: Hossein Keshavarz

Writer: Maryam Azadi, Hossein Keshavarz

Starring: Ahmad Akbarzadeh, Tahereh Esfahani, Bagher Forohar, Shahrokh Taslimi, Rahim Zamani

Year: 2010

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: Iran


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