A Respectable Family
PRODS Mohamed Afarideh, Jacques Bidou, Marianne Dumoulin
SCR/PROD DES Massoud Bakhshi
CAM Medhi Jafari
ED Jacques Comets
PROD CO Firoozei Films / BA Productions
When called to his father’s deathbed, an academic is thrust back into the brutal, corrupt world that drove him from Iran two decades earlier. With autobiographical elements only heightening its acuity, prize-winning documentary maker Massoud Bakhshi’s (Teheran Has No More Pomegranates) suspenseful fiction debut is equally eerie and exhilarating.
As his semester teaching at Shiraz University draws to a close with school authorities interfering with his syllabus, Arash (Babak Hamidian) finds himself stuck in the country because he has no military exemption. Meanwhile, the death of his estranged father, a brutal war profiteer, leads his loathsome half-brother (Mehran Ahmadi) and unscrupulous nephew (Mehrdad Sedighian) to launch a byzantine scheme to nab the patriarch’s entire fortune.
Moving between Shiraz and Tehran, the present and the past, like a game of narrative hide-and-seek, the film is haunted by the eight-year Iran-Iraq war and the young men martyred during those years. Bakhshi excels at creating an atmosphere of existential threat, particularly in the contemporary scenes. There are also some powerful visual metaphors and a sophisticated sound design. (As an aside, kudos to those who can name the Amir Naderi film that Arash is trying to screen for his class.) “An artfully woven political indictment… Meticulously structured…”—Hollywood Reporter