A fascinating allegory of modern-day Iran, this 2005 feature by Mohammad Rasoulof is set aboard an abandoned oil tanker in the Persian Gulf whose autocratic “captain” (Ali Nasirian) presides over a blinkered community of homeless families. (When the children ask their schoolteacher about “the world,” he has to explain that they're in it.) The captain strictly enforces traditional moral codes, and the fact that he seems motivated by expediency, not religion, provides one of the movie's sharper edges. A press release cautions that this “tackles issues of governance without placing liberal ideology at the center” and “explores the possibility of a society uncommitted to Western traditions,” so as with any allegory, my reading may say more about me than about the filmmaker's intent. In Farsi with subtitles.
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