Reza (Reza Akhlaghirad), a former teacher, retreats with his wife (Soudabeh Beizaee) and young son to tend goldfish in rural Northern Iran. Once there, his rigid principles keep him from participating in the bribery system that determines access to bank loans, leaving him vulnerable to a wealthy rival farmer manipulating the legal system to get control of his land. Soon, Reza descends into an ambiguous moral swamp, with survival options boiling down to a choice between a greater and lesser evil. Writer-director and former Telluride tribute Mohammad Rasoulof, under indictment by Iranian authorities, shot the film clandestinely in rural areas, and he quietly and eloquently channels his own rage. Combining precise visual mastery, an intricately constructed plot and moving performances by Akhlaghirad and Beizaee, Rasoulof has created something infinitely more powerful than a protest work: a timeless portrait of a soul’s spiritual trials. (Iran, 2017, 117m). – Telluride Film Festival Note.
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