2019 Film Reviews - 8: Tehran Taboo [dir. Ali Soozandeh; 2018]
When an Iranian movie starts with a prostitute performing oral sex on a man who's driving his car in the middle of a busy street while her son is quietly perched on the back seat, you know you’re not in subtle Kiarostami territory any more. But that’s the very tone Soozandeh strikes at the beginning of Tehran Taboo, a rotoscope animated film which sees us follow not just the story of the prostitute but also of two other women whose lives have to bend beneath the pressures of the country’s repressive - and, as presented here, deeply hypocritical - regime. It’s a transgressive, engrossing, frequently shocking piece of work, blending an energetic pace with countless bitter observations about the realities of 21st century life in Iran. What’s more, it rarely makes you question the form in which it’s been presented. I suspect that, on a practical level, the rotoscoping permitted the director to create a convincing Tehran setting without needing to leave his European base. But more importantly, the shifting outlines, lurid colours and treacherous surfaces create a powerful impression of a landscape in which fear lurks everywhere and a pair of prying eyes could have a devastating impact on one’s future. Well worth seeking out.