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3 Faces

(Se rokh)

By the director of This Is Not A Film and Taxi

Jafar Panahi was arrested in 2010 for allegedly making anti-Islamic propaganda and was sentenced to a 20-year ban from filmmaking. That hasn’t stopped him, of course: While under house arrest, he shot the feature-length video diary This Is Not A Film, which was smuggled out of Iran on a flash drive hidden inside a cake, and also appeared as himself (or a version thereof) in his next two pictures, Closed Curtain (2013) and Taxi (2015).

Poster for the Iranian drama 3 FacesHis 3 Faces may be modest and low-key on the surface, but its surprises are worth preserving, its insights casually profound. At the heart of the story is a mystery: What happened to Marziyeh (Marziyeh Rezaei), a teenage girl and aspiring actress from a border town, who has suddenly gone missing? Before she vanished, Marziyeh sent an alarming self-shot suicide video to the famed actress Behnaz Jafari (playing herself). Jafahi was sufficiently rattled by the footage that she has now come to the girl’s village in search of answers, chauffeured by none other than the director Panahi himself.

Much of this bracingly pleasurable movie is spent following Panahi and Jafari as they drop in on the villagers and make inquiries. They observe firsthand the environment – largely cut off from the outside world and ruled by small, superstitious minds – that undoubtedly gave rise to Marziyeh’s crisis. They drive slowly around the hilly, rocky countryside, along winding mountain roads that are often too narrow to accommodate two cars passing each other in opposite directions – a situation that Panahi turns into an ingenious metaphor for a society mired in tradition for tradition’s sake, unable to see past the end of its patriarchal nose.

– Justin Chang, The Los Angeles Times

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