The third film Jafar Panahi has smuggled out since being placed under house arrest plays out like a living, breathing video essay on the Iranian director and his work. It’s a dense, multilayered ride through the capital city, brimming with warmth and humor, fleeting moments, intelligence and regret.
Shot rather beautifully from a camera on the dashboard of a Tehran taxicab, Panahi plays it quasi-documentary as an everyday cabby (or so he’d like us to think). On his 90-minute spin around the city’s streets he picks up a motley crew of citizens, many of whom offer winks to the director’s canon. A bag of goldfish reminds us of The White Balloon. An argument about justice suggests Crimson and Gold. A hilarious run-in with a counterfeit DVD trader probably winks towards something else.
Panahi’s charming niece Hana (who picked up the Golden Bear this year on his behalf) appears with a camera and attempts to film a little urban moral dilemma for her class. Panahi seems to ponder his own role as filmmaker in such moments, as well as the cultural codes that have kept him locked up. There’s a richness to these scenes that demands multiple viewings.
Taxi Tehran (Taxi Teheran) | Directed by Jafar Panahi (Iran 2015) with Jafar
Panahi. Starts July 21