Taxi Tehran (Jafar Panahi’s Taxi)

4 out of 5 stars

Part cinema vérité and part politically/socially provocative indie drama, this is my first experience of Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s work – his third film since he was banned from making them in his home country. So he becomes a taxi driver and shoots a film from inside his taxi interacting with different characters. The result is a portmanteau of stories and discourses that touches on subjects as varied as crime and punishment; female subordination in Muslim society; justice and morality; and the cultural effect and intrinsic absurdity of censorship and what’s known as sordid realism. Now this might feel random but there is a very clever structure to it – migrating from the original (faux) documentary style towards a more coherent but fictional narrative construction. It is a captivating and humourous film which manages to turn its limitations to its advantage to provide a poignant and insightful commentary on the society in which it was set in.

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