Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Taxi (Jafar Panahi, 2015) - LFF Review

Director: Jafar Panahi; Iran, 2015
Reviewed by Kiomars Vejdani

Following This Is Not a Film and Closed Curtain, Jafar Panahi's Taxi Tehran seems to be first and foremost his reaction to imposed restriction. In his new film (winner of Golden Bear at this year's Berlin Film Festival) the restriction is a self imposed one by limiting himself to the confined space of a taxi. By playing the role of taxi driver Panahi beaks the boundary between cinematic illusion and reality of life. Although taxi runs though streets of Tehran there is nothing specific about places visited. The main purpose of using a taxi is for Panahi to express his feelings and views through encounters with a series of passengers, showing two extreme lines of thought in the society such as in the scene when a heated argument between a fanatic man and a liberal-minded female teacher is depicted. Other passengers include: a man selling copies of pirated DVDs; Two women carrying goldfish in a bowl, highlighting the grip that religious superstition can have on people; Pleasant encounter with a friend (human right lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh) voices social restrictions which Panahi himself has gone through.

But most interesting of all is Panahi's niece, a delightful little girl who is trying to make a film as a school project and is confused between restrictive instruction given by school and advice given by his uncle about how to search for reality. The film ends (or rather interrupted) by someone breaking into the taxi while Panahi is away for a short while. It is implied that it could be an act of surveillance rather than burglary. Panahi's final message seems to be he is prepared (and able) to work under any restrictive condition.

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