Eye For Film >> Movies >> Final Whistle (2010) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Actress and director Niki Karimi's film is the latest in a number of recent Iranian films, including Kami's Party and documentary Barre$ Silence, to show the class divide and easy access to cash have as much if not more of a role to play in everyday life in the country as religion. She also offers a snapshot of a bustling young nation that may be throwing up building developments but still has a long way to go in terms of social justice, with Turaj Aslani's camerawork in the streets of an unnamed city giving a strong sense of place. The action is set against the backdrop of the last World Cup, although the situation it outlines is far from being a game - and though it is four years' overdue, it has lost none of its impact and Edinburgh Film Festival should be praised for finally bringing it to a UK audience.
Film-within-a-film structures can often prove convoluted but Karimi wisely uses this device as a set-up point from which to launch her drama, which exposes the shockingly unequal experiences of women at opposite ends of the social scale. She stars as Sahar, a middle-class Iranian documentarian, who finds herself caught up in the potentially deadly narrative of young woman Malineh (Hasti Mahdavifar), who had a bit-part in her husband's recent film.
Heading out to reshoot a scene because the censors won't allow the suggestion of suicide - a heavy irony, as Final Whistle concerns state-sanctioned killing - she finds Malineh is about to sell a kidney for cash. On discovering she has been pushed to this decision in order to get blood money to save her mum from the death penalty after she has murdered her husband, Sahar finds herself on a crusade to help.
Karimi's contrasts are stark. Sahar has money and a fair amount of clout, easily able to order the men on her crew around and on an apparent equal footing with her husband (Shahab Hosseini). Malineh, on the other hand, has her work cut out simply fending off the advances of a would-be suitor - a much older man - while her mother's situation highlights the plight of those who suffer domestic abuse.
Final Whistle has a slow build but once the momentum gets going, tension winds tight and Karimi doesn't try to simplify the issues - the family of the dead man are shown and their grief and anger are treated with respect. The idea of material possessions taking precedence over morality is also presented in the ways that Sahar considers raising cash.
There are complex ethics at work here. Is retribution the answer, especially when the original 'crime' may have been an act of retribution itself? Should access to money and celebrity make you more able to dodge 'justice' in the first place? Certainly, Sahar is not above using the latter in a bid to win over the 'victim's' family. Karimi judges the system, not her characters.Reviewed on: 24 Jun 2014