Magazine article Screen International

'Tehran Taboo': Cannes Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Tehran Taboo': Cannes Review

Article excerpt

Ali Soozandeh's visually striking animation reveals a little-seen side to Tehran's youth

Dir/scr: Ali Soozandeh. Ger/Aust. 2017. 96mins

This striking animated first feature from Iranian-born, Germany-based Ali Soozandeh reveals Tehran's stratified society, in which sex, drugs and corruption are concealed beneath the veil of morality and propriety. Unlike the arresting animation, the narrative often resorts to broad brushstrokes to stress its points - which usually involve Olympian levels of hypocrisy and glaring double standards.

Although somewhat in obvious its approach - the key characters include a hooker with a heart of gold and a wife whose desire to work is thwarted by a husband who refuses to grant his permission - Tehran Taboo represents a glimpse of Iranian culture which is largely unknown. This novelty value, coupled with the handsome look of the picture, should ensure further festival berths following the film's world premiere in Critics' Week, while the success of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis might persuade audiences to take a chance on another lively, irreverent animated assault on Iranian morality.

For Soozandeh, whose background is mainly in animation, the use of rotoscoped characters and a combination of 3D and drawn elements for the backdrop was not just an aesthetic choice. Shooting in Tehran was not an option for a film about young Iranians' resourceful pursuit of illicit good times, so animation provides a means to create the character of the city in a way which is more satisfying than using Morocco or Jordan as a live-action double.

And the schizophrenic character of Tehran is as essential here as any of the human components of this multi-stranded story. The popping colour palette embraces richly saturated fruit hues: tangerine orange and lemon yellow clash boldly with plums and lime greens. …

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