Crimson Gold

November, 2003, Mystery

Directed by:Jafar Panahi

Starring:Hossain Emadeddin, Kamyar Sheisi, Azita Rayeji, Shahram Vaziri, Ehsan Amani, Pourang Nakhael, Koveh Najmabadi, and Saber Safael

Iran’s Jafar Panahi, winner of the Gold Lion at Venice 3 years ago, opens this film by presenting a brutally inexplicable robbery-homicide in the opening scene. Then he backtracks to show his audience the tortured lives of its perpetrators, investing the film’s closing recapitulation of the same crime with new and far more complex meaning.

In the process of doing so, Panahi provides an indelible sketch of the price Iran has paid for its years of Muslim fundamentalist rue and the confusion with which its younger citizens face a contemporary world bereft of meaningful connection with the traditional one imposed by the country’s religious leaders.

At 97 short minutes, this film moves a bit too abruptly to its shattering denouement, but not before providing some sobering observations about life in contemporary Teheran. For a fraction of the cost of an hour of network television programming here in the U.S., Panahi and his small, talented cast work miracles. Hollywood should take notice.

The verdict? Gloomy but stunning.

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