Dir/scr: Nasser Refaie. Iran. 2006. 89mins
A study in grief and solitude verging on theexperimental, Nasser Refaie's second feature Another Morning is a tough nut to crackfor all but the most dedicated students of Iranian cinema.
It's not as if the messagehe wishes to deliver is that obscure or difficult to unravel; rather it is theextreme austerity he employs to tell his story that may dissuade many.
Painting life in Iran in asgrim and disenchanted as Refaie does is a courageousact but looking at it through the eyes of a man who remains perfectly apatheticand expressionless throughout makes it hard for any audience to stick with it untilthe end.
Though commercial prospects look remote, festival dates are still possible:showing Iran as a nest of iniquities just when its government is becoming moreprominent on the world stage is something no programmer can ignore.
The picture turns on Kamali (Majid Jalilian),freshly widowed, grieving and inconsolable. Having to do household chores onhis own is bad enough, but having a pious family that outdoes him in praying andwailing on his dead wife's grave is even more awkward. Unctuous colleagues andbosses apologising for not having attended the funeral, when it is obvious theycould not be bothered to go, make it only worse.
Everywhere he turns, whetherin his office or roaming aimlessly along the streets, Kamalifeels discouraged by everything he sees, be it juvenile crime or adolescentdrug dealers, a wife cheated by her husband or a boy who has run away with his girlfriend without her father's consent.
But Kamalijust looks and says not a word, noticing everything impassibly and refrainingfrom contact. At a certain point, he is almost attracted to an older widow, butshe never comes to visit him. Later he is almost drawn to a colleague at work,only to discover that she is already engaged. Even his attempt to buy a lotteryticket is a failure.
As Another Morning moves along at a monotonous pace - which could theoreticallybe justified but which would still not make it anymore exciting - one has time to ponder whether such a list of everything thatis wrong with the world qualifies as cinema - or simply an essay in ethics.
Nasser Refaie Film Production Company