Septembers of Shiraz (2016) Movie Review: Not A Dark Enough Film

By: Reel 127 (Four Beers) –

Septembers of Shiraz is the story of a family torn apart by the revolution in Iran. They become forced to leave behind the life they have built, or face the horrors of the revolution. Despite its promising premise and enticing billing, Septembers of Shiraz fails to live up to expectations. It’s an example of what could have been great, but instead feels like it is holding back.

A Toast

I found myself very impressed by Salma Hayek’s performance. I can’t say that I have seen her in a leading role in a movie before, so this was very refreshing. There are several scenes where I was very drawn into her acting and found it very believable. I am glad that a good portion of the movie focused on her rather than lowering her to a supporting role. I found her character (Farnez) had the more interesting story of the two. If you wanted to see a film that correctly captured the unfair treatment of Iranian detainees, than watch Rosewater. Farnez’s story let us think about what happens to women in this situation. Examining the women who are left alone to care for themselves in a country where they are regularly oppressed creates an interesting dynamic that comes off as the strongest part of the film as a whole.

across the universe

Quite a step up from her appearance in Across the Universe.

Beer Two

The opening of this movie is accompanied by the song “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. It seems like this was an attempt to set the time period, but there were so many other choices they could have gone with to express this. The reason this song worked as an opening for Saturday Night Fever is because it helped set the mood for the rest of the film. It’s hard to keep the upbeat mood of “Stayin’ Alive” when minutes later we find out about revolutionary violence in the area. Also, it sure was helpful that Isaac (Brody) gave a toast at a party that served as exposition. I love being spoon fed details just four minutes in rather than learning naturally through the story.

saturday-night-fever

Plus there was no strut, you gotta have the strut!

Beer Three

There is a scene a little over halfway through the movie where Isaac thinks he is going to be executed. He is shot at but not hit, just as an attempt to scare him. The scene seems like it was meant to be this emotional moment where Isaac thinks he will truly die and forces himself to accept it. But the whole thing came off more like a satire. Isaac wets himself from fear and falls to the ground crying afterward. I feel like it would have been more meaningful if once it was done he was still standing tall. Showing that he was stronger from all his time in captivity with this being the tipping point he needed to promise himself to get out alive. Instead we get what feels like an SNL parody as he falls to the ground blubbering.

adrien snl

Which is interesting considering the lifetime ban Brody has on SNL.

Beer Four

Adrien Brody is a great actor. I absolutely loved him in Grand Budapest Hotel from just a couple years ago, but I didn’t think that much of him in this one. I felt like the character wasn’t fully developed and with the exception of one scene his performance was largely forgettable. Also, does it bug anyone else when films are set in foreign countries with their own languages yet everyone speaks English? I take even films where they do a mix of English and the native language overly strictly English films. This may just be nitpicking on my part but it bugs me when a film thinks as long as its characters have the accent of the area it doesn’t matter what the language is.

Verdict

I can tell the filmmakers’ hearts were in the right place while making this movie. For this film to be at its full potential, though, there would need to be some drastic changes in certain areas. There are all the elements of a good story here and I can’t think any of the plot points needing to be cut. If anything they could have added a couple of scenes to make Brody’s character pop a little more and bring it to a flat two hour runtime. Unless you are a big fan of the leads I recommend passing on this one.

4Beers

Septembers of Shiraz (2016) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: whenever Isaac is being interrogated

Do a Shot: when a place gets ransacked

Take a Drink: whenever someone spits

Take a Drink: whenever someone gets slapped

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