The great Iranian filmmaker was not allowed to leave his country. But he’s fine, to believe this splendid film dedicated to three actresses from three generation: “3 Faces”.
Desperate from not being able to achieve her dream of becoming an actress, a teenager addresses a famous actress with a cry of despair. Upset, Behnaz Jafari (in her own role) engages her friend Jafar Panahi to visit the village of Marziyeh and investigate if there is a matter of suicide or merely some dubious hoax.
For having participated in the 2009 protests following the disputed re-election of Ahmadinejad, Jafar Panahi was sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment in addition to a 20 years prohibition from shooting. Under international pressure, he was assigned to house arrest, yet he has contrived to transgress the ban with This is not a film, then Closed Curtain, and Taxi Tehran, which he used to crash the gates of censorship.
The first fixed shots in the car suggest that the filmmaker is once again resorting to a clandestine device. But a panoramic shot suddenly announces that Panahi has returned to cinema. His collaborators confirm that he enjoyed a great deal of latitude in his work. The film is in competition in Cannes, in the presence of the actresses, but the director is still not allowed to leave his country.
3 Faces, Grey Monochromes
With its road trips, a grandmother that is all too patient in her future grave and a long finale on a winding road, Se Rokh (3 faces) is the most kiarostamian of Panahi’s films. In a rural community, where “there are more parables than inhabitants,” two artists from the city face the weight of tradition.
Three generations of actresses carry the story to its denouement: the future belongs to insolent Marziyeh, the present to beautiful Behnaz, the past to Shawzar, who was a star before the Islamic Revolution and lives away from the village. Everything converges towards this fallen star. We will not see her. Knowing the power of imagination, Jafar Panahi discloses only Shawzar’s house at the end of the road, the light at her window, her voice on the CD that the filmmaker is listening to, and that is enough to dazzle us.
Surprisingly joyful, strewn with absurd gags, Se Rokh amazes with its pictorial qualities, the rigor of its compositions and its monochromes of flavescent gray that pierces a touch of vividness. Jafar Panahi is back.