The Other

****1/2

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

The Other
"The liberties taken with the work of a playwright famed for his contemporary analysis of the morays of fin-de-siecle Vienna are a triumph."

The creak of rope in trees could be the cry of an unseen bird, a keening strain. What follows are different sounds, the soft set of dark hair against the stone slab, the gloved hands stretching and scrubbing, the gentle undressing, the last rattle of bracelets, the silent slide of tears on faces.

Without dialogue, but saying as much because of it, small movements in small spaces. Blue the colour of skies, of dresses, of walls. Red the colour of secrets, hidden in drawers, slowly washed away. The call to prayer from a candy-bar phone, a Motorola muezzin.

Hill country, a sharp switchback, things lost and rushed to recover. A landscape where the bright colours of playground plastics seem as muted as the bricks and stone behind. Blue the colour of fences, railings. Red the colour of hair, of secrets.

The graveyard is tight packed against the town, here the living, here the dead. The graveyard is tight packed against the hillside, here the bare trees, here the absence of sky. The graveyard is tight packed with secrets, here the widower, here the stranger.

Written/directed/edited by the 'Samko Brothers (Ako Zandkarimi, Saman Hosseinpour), this is a delight and a sure indicator of their (multi-)talents. Hamed Baghaeian's cinematography bends light, colour to purpose. Aresh Ghasemu does the same for sound. The rumble of air across burning wood, the sussurus of combustion. In the dark of the dyeworks, emotional retreat to a fastness. The impatient revolutions of a two-stroke, the ground gravel of unpaved paths.

Nobody speaks, but this leaves nothing to be unspoken. The hillside bisects the frame, a slash across the sky. People look, look at the people. The peak is proud against the heavens, the figures so fragile upon it. Who gets the scraps, who is the master? Against the valley walls the slope is slight and small. What fault is this? Whose fault is this? What manner of psyche, geography? The wind rushes like blood in the ears. Everywhere senses the significant. Dripping here, dropping there. The ash and the trees' protesting.

Adapted from The Other by Arthur Schnitzler, the liberties taken with the work of a playwright famed for his contemporary analysis of the morays of fin-de-siecle Vienna are a triumph. That reckless relocation to the complex Kurdish countryside is as much a success as Martin Eden's leap from 19th century San Francisco to strike-gripped somewhat-Socialist Italy. This is powerful as much because it plays with the same aspects of formality and form as his works, and is all the better for it.

Reviewed on: 13 Oct 2021
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A man becomes suspicious of his wife's faithfulness, more so when he sees another at her graveside.

Director: Ako Zandkarimi, Saman Hosseinpour

Year: 2021

Runtime: 24 minutes

Country: Iran

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