Combustible Celluloid
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With: Mahnaz Afshar, Mohammad Reza Golzar, Attila Pesyani, Keikavous Yakideh, Niloofar Khoshkholgh
Written by: Tahmineh Milani
Directed by: Tahmineh Milani
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Farsi with English subtitles
Running Time: 105
Date: 07/07/2006

Cease Fire (2006)

1 Star (out of 4)

The War of the Dozes

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In 2001, the Revolutionary Council of Tehran jailed the Iranian filmmaker Tahmineh Milani over objectionable material in her film The Hidden Half (they accused her of being a counter-revolutionary). Threatened with execution, a raft of Western filmmakers (including Steven Soderbergh, Spike Lee, Ang Lee and Mike Leigh) banded together and petitioned her release. This has earned Milani a certain amount of awe and respect, which disguises the fact that her films are really not very good. The Hidden Half is an awkward, heavy-handed drama, overwritten and overplayed.

Now Milani has returned with a comedy and the only good news is that the heavy-handed aspect is now gone, though the awkward part still remains. It depicts a struggling marriage between a strong-willed, educated female architect, Sayeh (Mahnaz Afshar) and her handsome, childish engineer husband Yousef (Mohammad Reza Golzar). Sayeh attempts to find a divorce lawyer but mistakenly walks into a therapist's office. The therapist (Attila Pesyani) listens to her story (which unfolds in flashback) and later has an opportunity to listen to Yousef's. He teaches them to "love their inner child." Milani's attempts at comedy are embarrassing at best. Her choices of camera angles and cutting are sheer head-scratchers; the slapstick is constantly ill-timed and ill-placed. For some reason Milani includes a stereotypical gay character for "comic relief." Even stranger, this mess has reportedly become the highest-grossing film in Iranian history.

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