Modest Reception

A man with his arm in a cast who thus resem­bles Napoleon and a well-dressed woman are making their way through a war-torn moun­tain­ous region in an SUV. The boot of the car con­tains plas­tic bags filled with money to dis­trib­ute to the needy people they encounter on their jour­ney. But are the two of them really on a char­i­ta­ble mis­sion or are we watch­ing a duplic­i­tous game of temp­ta­tion and moral­i­ty?

Mani Haghighi’s pre­vi­ous film MEN AT WORK (Forum 2006) already took the stan­dard social crit­i­cism to be found in Iran­ian cinema into the realm of the absurd. PAZIRAIE SADEH is a film both far­ci­cal and full of anger that con­tin­ues in this Beck­et­t­ian vein. Its des­o­late loca­tion seems to have come from anoth­er world, peo­pled by char­ac­ters that appear either uproot­ed or merely pass­ing through. The appar­ent bene­fac­tors always attach sadis­tic con­di­tions to their hand­outs, making one poor man swear on the Koran that he won’t share the money with his equal­ly poor rel­a­tives and pre­vent­ing anoth­er from bury­ing his baby’s corpse. But even as they humil­i­ate their vic­tims and play their funny games, real­i­ty turns out to be a highly adept oppo­nent, more than capa­ble of sti­fling their sar­don­ic laugh­ter.