Septembers of Shiraz full movie review - A Story of Barbarism and Survival
In Iran, the city of Shiraz has traditionally been associated with great cultural achievements in poetry, literature, and magnificent gardens.
Set at the inception of the Iranian revolution of 1979, "Septembers of Shiraz" focuses on the tyranny of the oppressive rule of the Ayatollah Khomeini, as directed against a businessman.
The focal point of the film is a Jewish merchant of precious stones and jewelry, who is summarily arrested, tortured, and extorted of his fortune in order to survive. Adrien Brody delivers another complex and moving performance as the jeweler named Isaac. Salma Hayak-Pinault is outstanding as Isaac's wife, Farnaz. The action is taut and the pacing is deliberate, as Isaac's long period in captivity and his ordeal of torture are chronicled in lurid detail.
One of the best scenes in the film is the moment where Isaac's captor named Mohsen, as played by Alon Aboutboul, engages Isaac in an extended conversation. The climax of the scene is when Isaac persuasively points to the circularity of their relationship and how Mohsen's extremism has made him captive to his obsession for revenge. Mohsen is no less a prisoner than Isaac. In this area, the film could have developed more completely the background on the repressive regime of the Shah of Iran and the barbarity of the methods used by his secret police, the dreaded SAVAK.
Another key relationship in the film was that of Farnaz and the household maid Habibeh, given a remarkable screen interpretation by the husky-voiced Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo. In the ebb and flow of this relationship, Habibeh begins to side with the revolutionaries, yet is deeply conflicted due to the kindness shown to her by Farnaz and Isaac. In a moving scene near the end of the film, Habibeh comes around to support Issac and Farnaz, rejecting her son, who has turned informant on the family. In an ironic twist, however, the last we hear of the son is that he has been arrested by the new theocratic regime for his personal greed in looting precious stones from Isaac's business.
In the DVD "Behind the Scenes" segment, it is clear that the film artists approached this film with great intelligence, including the screenwriter, director, and design team, who were all passionate about making a film that depicts not only a repressive regime at one moment in time in 1979, but for all forms of tyranny that refuse to honor reverence for life. Tragically, this story is all too familiar well into the twenty-first century.