Circumstance (15)


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Maryam Keshavarz's film about two young Iranian women who fall foul of the "morality police" has the same mix of humour, defiance and fatalism found in Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis.

Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri) and Shireen (Sarah Kazemy) are cultured, high-spirited and hedonistic. They're also in love with one another. When Atafeh's once-rebellious brother Mehran (Reza Sixo Safai) becomes ultra-religious, they are soon exposed to the brutality of the authorities.

The self-consciously poetic storytelling style (with all those slow motion close-ups) sometimes grates. Mehran's abrupt transformation from recovering drug addict into devout religious patriarch isn't really explained.

Nonetheless, Circumstance lays bare the religious, sexual and social tensions in contemporary Iranian society. The film also has enough lyricism and a sense of irony not to seem overly didactic.