Dave White
Offside Review

Dave's Rating:

5.0

… like a hopeful sequel to The Circle.

Who's in It: Mohammed Kheir-abadi, Sima Mobarak-Shahi, Shayesteh Irani, Ayda Sadeqi, Golnaz Farmani

The Basics: Wouldn't it be cool if women were less legislated in Iran? If they were, then filmmaker Jafar Panahi (The White Balloon, The Circle) could focus his camera on something other than how much it sucks to be female in that country. But as it is, their plight provides him with plenty of material. This time around it's the bummer of being a butch little female soccer fan in a place that doesn't allow women to go to public sporting events. Six young girls trying to sneak into a match are corralled and detained by grumpy young male soldiers. They spend the rest of the movie arguing with, escaping from and taunting their captors.

What's the Deal? The most surprising thing is that it takes oppression and makes a nose-thumbing comedy out of it. No one likes the situation they're in, not even the men. It's like a hopeful, you-can't-stop-the-dissent sequel to The Circle. In that movie, you were forced to spend the entire film panicking over the fate of the law-breaking women. Here you get the feeling that they're all going to be fine and that the characters will continue to do as they please by finding ways around the crushingly misogynist laws.

Winner of the Most Banned Director in His Home Country Award for Several Years Running: Panahi's films get U.S. distribution and audiences in seats like no other Iranian filmmaker. Not even Abbas Kiarostami, who's pretty much considered Iran's finest filmmaker, gets the play in this country that Panahi does, probably because Panahi's movies are more accessible and emotional. Meanwhile, back home, no one gets to watch his work. They just ban it and hope he'll go away.

Is It a Sports Movie If You Can't See the Sport Being Played? This may be the very first movie about rabid fans of any sport where you're denied the opportunity to witness the sport itself. Like the women onscreen, you don't get to see a single goal. And whatever inspirational uplift comes along later is ambiguous. That stuff would never fly in Hollywood. So be thankful this guy is making movies somewhere else, right?

Where You've Seen His Cast Before: You haven't. Panahi works with non-professional actors, yet somehow gets really amazing performances out of all of them.

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