Nobody Knows about Persian Cats- Bahman Ghobadi
As I finished watching the film, I could not comprehend what just happened. The last closing minutes where powerfully emotional and left me teary.
But first, a brief plot description. The film focuses on Ashkan and Negar who are musicians in Iran and due to the Shariah Islamic law prohibiting their genre of music they play, they are seeking to leave the country. But here is the plot device- they need passports and visa’s. So they head on over to local media pirate Nader to seek help in their endeavors. Nader points them to sleek and charismatic oldie Mash David who promises to provide them with Passports/ and or visa’s if they come up with the money. So Ashkan and Negar have to devise a plan to raise the money, and their idea was to get some band members and play a concert to raise the money. And so begins their quest as they run into different bands and play some music with an accompanying music video which makes a political statement, about the conditions of the city of Tehran. These sequences are especially well done, particularly the rap sequence.
I can’t help but feel the whole film always has a sense of foreboding and darkness throughout it as it builds up to the shocking climax ending. Maybe it’s the barebones style neo-realist film making that gives us a sense that it will not be a fairy tale happy ending, this is the real streets of Tehran; life isn’t a bed of roses here.
The film does remind me of a documentary as it’s hand-held camera filming and casual dialogue makes it seem so. It doesn’t feel scripted and the sensation is hard to describe. The music played is a delight to hear (well at least for me) and fits in well with the tone of the moment; the song doesn’t feel out of place. The film does have a lot of dialogue, and all of it is to progress the narrative. There have been many complaints about this, but I personally found the dialogue to be useful and engaging to the audience, which is me. I think attention to detail is needed for this film as you need to focus on what is being said, or else the narrative zooms by. It is almost fully linear so not too hard to follow, even though we have a non-linear first 10 seconds to foreshadow the ending, a technique that is effective in building an enigmatic wall around the audience and setting them to think from the beginning.
I did not find anything wrong with this film, to me it was an eye-opening Iranian Film into the whole Iranian Underground Music Culture and really makes you question the will of people and what they are capable of doing for their music. The first of many Iranian films for this course, so looking forward to them.