They are both on the run: the man with the dog he isn’t allowed to own because Islamic law deems it to be unclean, and the young woman who took part in an illicit party on the shores of the Caspian Sea…
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Starts and ends perfectly, with one extraordinary bit of business in the middle. The problem is an old one: w/ allegory, one always risks saying very important things in a way that is silly. I like dogs enough, but I wanted to kick that dog in the face. First half is not good, second half is actually quite good.
Panahi's follow-up to This is Not a Film is more scripted, which means it's less fluid, and the games it plays with reality more explicit. But it's also much more melancholy—not a mischievous act of artistic creation triumphing over adversity, but a work left unfinished when the creator loses hope. So as someone who found This is Not a Film to be a revelation, it left me devastated. 4 out of 5 stars.
Riveting first half. Surrealist, indulgent, narcissistic second half. A lovely "dog-film" (first half). Possibly writer /director/actor Kambuzia Partovi and the beautiful actress Maryam Moqadam are the strengths.
Panahi has talent. An element of disbelief that exudes most of his interesting projects. (Here: dogs on the open beach in daylight at the end of the film, which contradicts earlier statements.)
"Documentary/Drama"? Thanks for the warning... I think. I would actually add a third 'D' to the mix: Dream. The disjointed narrative is fragmented, redirected, and refracted through the mind of the artist. The sense of claustrophobia is nothing new: this is samizdat cinema, made when a country attempts to control thought and expression. Many artists do, in fact, give up and 'wade into the sea'; others go into exile.
There is something remarkable with how Panahi is able to represent the forms and degrees of oppression within the confined space of his own home. Stretching from himself within the film, his dog (especially with the legal parallels that he portrays), and the meta criticism omni-present throughout. Panahi is accomplishing work on a higher plane of thinking under scrutiny than most people could who are totally free.
Each of Panahi's post-arrest films has been intensely personal, but this seems to be the most deeply autobiographical and cerebral of the three. There are some wonderful compositions, a head-scratching metanarrative and an interesting message about filmmaking and politics. I suspect this will take a second viewing for the themes to really sink in.