Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"There is satire here but this the director takes a jokes first, social comment second approach." | Photo: Courtesy of Berlin Film Festival

Mani Haghighi's latest film is a rock 'n' roll riff of an absurdist satire, strafing its protagonist's masculinity alongside everything from social media to the Iranian police force. It features the same inky humour that marked his 2012 tragicomedy Modest Reception, although the colour scheme is from the bloody rather than the black end of the spectrum.

A film where things are frequently set at odds with one another, Pig opens with a gaggle of girls twittering over the latest online sensation - noticeably everyday, it's in stark contrast to the music by Peyman Yazdanian, which has all the portent of the scary moment in a horror film (a technique that is used throughout) . Sure enough, we're soon looking at the bodiless head of a director - one in a line of filmmakers who fall victim to a rampaging serial killer, who finishes his or her work with a flourish by carving the word 'pig' on each victim's forehead.

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Hassan Majooni (Hasan Kasmai) considers himself to be a great director, or at least he would be if he wasn't blacklisted. The sort of person who always feels the world is against him, he might be look be a husband and a father but his wardrobe of heavy metal T-shirts and bedroom bearing a wall mural of AC/DC's Angus Young in a schoolboy outfit suggest he is still enjoying his adolescence on this inside. Even the phrases people use when they talk to him come with a whiff of Peter Pan - "stop sulking" one of the women in his life tells him, as though he was 15, while his Turkish mum (Mina Jafarzadeh) constantly refers to him as "baby".

Reduced to shooting cockroach killer adverts thanks to the blacklisting - a job that he handles with a decidedly operatic approach - his star Shiva (Leila Hatami) is threatening to take a role with a rival, while his wife (Leili Rashidi) has also had enough and he is barely on the radar of his daughter (Aynaz Azarhoosh). Still, at least he has a stalker (Parinaz Izadyar), which must prove something about his fame. What really sticks in his craw, however, is the lack of interest the serial killer is showing in him - "I'd be respected if he killed me," he laments.

This, then is a farce in Farsi, as Hasan bumbles along, nearly always finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Haghighi approaches the action as though it's a drum solo, striking out at all angles, to take potshots at Hasan's wounded masculinity, create havoc during a tennis match or simply have fun by sticking the police into the absurdist position of arresting Hasan via swan pedalo. There is satire here but this the director takes a jokes first, social comment second approach. If things start to droop a little towards the end, it's at least partially because of the sheer amount of energy expended in the run-up that means when the narrative has to kick in it acts as a brake. But as Hasan would tell you, you've got to rock til you drop.

Reviewed on: 22 Feb 2018
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Hasan, a blacklisted filmmaker, starts to sulk when he isn't bumped off by a serial killer.

Read more Pig reviews:

Jennie Kermode ****

Director: Mani Haghighi

Writer: Mani Haghighi

Starring: Hasan Majuni, Leila Hatami, Leili Rashidi, Parinaz Izadyar, Mina Jafarzadeh

Year: 2018

Runtime: 108 minutes

Country: Iran

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