Eye For Film >> Movies >> From Tehran To London (2012) Film Review
From Tehran To London
Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald
"Sometimes people are so close they can't see one another" - It's the limits of human closeness and vision that binds Mania Akbari's film together. It's an intimate, focused look on an unhappy family - but can only tell half of its story. Iranian authorities, notoriously censorious and authoritarian, led Akbari to cease production. The resultant film is pieced together from already-filmed scenes.
Time passes between scenes without title-cards or narration to bind it together. It's easy enough to follow the strong, immediate performances and writing. It's roughly hewn stuff, shot in a single house using harsh lighting, and photographed on low-resolution digital video. There are some inspired composition choices. By refreshing necessity, screenwriter/director Akbari places her ultimate faith in the audience to keep up and paint in the broad stroke storytelling ourselves. It's not hard.
The film is entirely set in a middle-class household, and follows a strained marriage - every conversation an interrogation, every action questioned. Tea served in a glass - not a cup, incorrectly packing clothes, misplaced newspapers, cleaning the house with overt vigour, migraine pills, airport travel times. Each scene has a dark undercurrent throughout - but every family member has secrets and none are simply characterised, blameless in the shared pain or (above all!) capable of real introspection.
And thus is the eventual feeling evoked by From Tehran To London - it is the story of a family and a society incapable of facing its societal taboos within the prism of popular art. It's bookended by dedications to imprisoned Iranian filmmakers - and a brief summary of the remaining plot. By releasing it as is, it's a surprising piece of innate faith in an eventually progressive Iran. One hopes Akbari's faith isn't misplaced.Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2013
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