DIRECTED BY: Farnoosh Samadi
STARRING: Sadaf Asgari, Sahar Dolatshahi, Azita Hajian, Mohammad Heidari, Pejman Jamshidi, Hassan Pourshirazi and Amirrez Ranjbaran
Set in Tehran, Sara is preparing to attend and celebrate a family wedding in northern Iran when husband Hamed requests that she stay home with their daughter, who’s not feeling well, as he heads away on a business trip. Sara however makes the choice to secretly take a trip to the wedding with her daughter, a choice that will lead her and her family down a tragic, painful road.
180° Rule marks the directorial feature debut of Farnoosh Samadi, with the drama focusing on Sara, a school teacher in Tehran, who is getting set to attend a family wedding up in the northern region of Iran until her husband Hamed gets a call to attend a business trip away and before he gets on his flight, he tells Sara to stay at home with their unwell daughter rather than head on to the wedding. Sara however decides to make the trip up north, telling her daughter and the rest of the family to keep it secret from her husband, but as tragedy strikes, certain choices are made that lead to a world of hurt.
Samadi’s directorial feature that looks into the strict customs and rules for women in Iran, as we see it through Sara throughout the film. In the main story arc, we see how she’s popular and well-respected by teachers and students at school, but at home her marriage with Hamed appears more one-sided, with her opinions and suggestions appear nothing more to him than her constantly nagging, and he has the final say on all matters. Even before Hamed gets the call to go on business, Sara’s persistence on attending the wedding is met with Hamed showing such disinterest in attending that the business trip almost comes across as a free get out card. There’s another story arc in which a female student confides in Sara about troubles with her personal life and another choice is made that will come back to haunt Sara.
This film to put it in small content is the equivalent of Murphy’s Law, what can go wrong will go wrong, and literally every choice made leads to a tragic result and, unfortunately, I found it to be leaning towards absurdity by the time the final credits rolled. And while the tragedy at the wedding is shocking and very effective, a certain decision is made that will either make or break the film for the viewer, as characters begin to make baffling decisions that you had sympathy for will be almost lost immediately. There’s also an act where we look at how the legal system operates, but it just reminds me of a previous Iranian film (A Separation) where that was integral to the plot so it doesn’t really say anything new but will highlight to those unaware of the lack of protection women have in a male-dominated authority state. It’s a shame that once the film makes a certain decision it couldn’t bring me back to enjoy the film after a strong start, as the performance by Sahar Dolatshahi is great here, the direction from Farnoosh Samadi is really good, as is the cinematography by Masood Salami.
While 180° Rule has solid direction and a great performance by Sahar Dolatshahi, an integral moment in the film leads to a journey that became just too absurd for me in its bleakness.