Brief Review: Jafar Panahi’s TAXI
It’s amazing that a film like Jafar Panahi’s Taxi even exists. In his home country of Iran, artistic freedom is severely limited. The clothes performers can wear, the type of conversations they can have, even the overall story has to fit within guidelines that Iran has set forth. Director Jafar Panahi refuses to live within such a fragile system that stifles artistic freedom. In the past he has smuggled films out of the country so that they could be seen, thus it is incredible that Taxi can exist in such a system.
So what exactly is it about? Well that is a little more difficult to explain. Jafar Panahi has taken a position as a cab driver and in doing so can give valuable insight into the people of Iran. In a sense, it plays like a documentary looking at the culture and strict structure of Iranian government. Through his passengers, he is able to say a lot more about limitations for artistic freedom than if he were to present a narrative feature. While the film is not without crazy moments, including a man who is delirious from a vehicle accident, it is a very reflective piece on the nature of Iran. It is incredibly likely to be one of this year’s under-seen gems, so if you get an opportunity seek this out.
What They Say:
Internationally acclaimed director Jafar Panahi (This is Not a Film, The Circle, Offside, Crimson Gold, The White Balloon) has been banned from making films for years by the repressive government of Iran—but he goes ahead anyway, without authorization. In his latest, he drives a yellow cab through the vibrant streets of Tehran, picking up a wide variety of talkative fares, including his own precocious 10-year-old niece, a budding filmmaker herself. (She is working on a school assignment to make a “distributable” film: no “sordid realism.”) Also amusing is a pirate DVD salesman, who recognizes Panahi and says he supplied him with a Woody Allen comedy—would he like another? Each man, woman and child candidly expresses his or her own view of the world, while being interviewed by the curious and gracious driver/director. Throughout, the action is recorded by a dashboard-mounted camera, capturing a spirited slice of Iranian society while also brilliantly redefining the borders of comedy, drama and cinema. Winner of the Golden Bear at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival. (Fully subtitled)
Jafar Panahi’s TAXI is currently playing at Kendall Square Cinema.