Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
Original title: Panj E Asr
Iran/France, 2003. Bac Films, Makhmalbaf Productions, Wild Bunch. Screenplay by Samira Makhmalbaf, based on the novel by Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Cinematography by Ebrahim Ghafori, Samira Makhmalbaf. Produced by Siamak Alagheband, Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Music by Mohammad Reza Darvishi. Film Editing by Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Cannes Film Festival 2003. Toronto International Film Festival 2003.
Politically inspiring but only fitfully entertaining look at women living under Taliban rule. Nogreh (Agheleh Rezaie) secretly attends an all-female school and hopes her father won’t find out about it, hoping to someday become Afghanistan’s first female president. At home, her sister-in-law nurses a starving baby while awaiting news of her husband’s return, the two of them living with their father in the ruins of a building until they decide to leave after displaced squatters take over the pile of rubble they call home. Finding another place to reside is no picnic for this trio, with the child’s health only growing worse while optimistic Nogreh sticks to her plans to better educate herself and achieve her dream (and why not, if Pakistan can stand a female leader?) Early scenes of women discussing their situation in school are extremely powerful, and smart visual cues like Nogreh’s attachment to pair of white high-heeled shoes are not painfully contrived. The film fully achieves its aims of showing the other side of post-9/11 life, but director Samira Makhmalbaf’s efforts don’t necessarily match her intentions and many parts of the film are a slog to sit through.