Mahmoud who works in the Railroad Company outside Tehran learns of the disappearance of his wife who has a record of mental illness. He comes back to Tehran to look for her. Neighbors start to make his life impossible with their gossip.
This film is the story of the struggle of the Iranian young generation with the taboos of their society.
Posted: Thurs., Feb. 2, 2006, 1:42pm PT
Produced by Jahangir Kosari. (International sales: Sheherazade Media International, Teheran.)
Directed, edited by Maziar Miri. Screenplay, Parviz Shahbazi.
Mahmoud - Mohammad-Reza Foroutan
Pari - Niloofar Khoshkholgh
Firooz - Hassan Poorshiraz
Haj Khanoon - Maryam Boobani
Professor Afzali - Shahrokh Frootanian
By DEBORAH YOUNG
Unveiled in a re-edited version at the Fajr festival, where it was a surprise winner in the international competition, "Gradually... " explores the psychological journey of an uneducated young man pressured by society to ostracize his mentally ill wife when she goes off roaming without his permission. Like helmer Maziar Miri's first entry "Unfinished Song," which questioned the ban on women singers in Iran, the idea is on target and subtly handled. Though a subplot still needlessly complicates the ending, this cut has the merit of being comprehensible and involving. Festivals will be its main stomping grounds.
Mahmoud (Mohammad-Reza Foroutan, who won the actor award at Fajr) is a railway welder who genuinely loves his wife, Pari (Niloofar Khoshkholgh). When informed she's been missing from their home for more than a week, he leaves his distant job to search for her. She has left their small daughter with her parents and vanished with the downpayment on their home. Miri paints a bleak picture of uncaring, malicious relatives and neighbors ready to jump to the worst conclusions. Since a runaway wife is a terrible humiliation, Mahmoud is stricken --and relieved to identify a faceless corpse in the morgue as Pari. Up to this point the film works perfectly.
In film's second half, events take an unexpected turn, and begin to escape Miri's narrative control. A parallel tale about some kids who discover a tape recording, apparently added to create mystery about the woman's disappearance, looks cheap and thrown-together; it also throws an irritating red herring into a plot that needed to be linear.
Foroutan delivers a beautifully interiorized performance as the husband pulled in the wrong direction by social prejudice against his heart, yet who gradually grows into a man. Though a little over-idealized, Khoshkholgh draws sympathy as his young wife. Maryam Boobani handles a nice supporting role as their nosy landlady Haj Khanoon.
One wishes Miri's editing could have gone farther in eliminating the dross to this story, which begins to accumulate alarmingly toward the end of the film. It is still unclear how some of these late scenes fit into the story. Mohammad-Reza Darvishi's score adds some delicate moments of musical commentary.
To read Variety's review of the 2005 Cannes version click here.
Born in 1972 in Tehran, Maziar Miri is a graduate of editing from IRIB’s College in 1996. He Started His film career as an editor in Iranian TV channels and edited a number of TV series as well as documentaries... He made a 3-part documentary on “Iranian Nature” from 1997-1999 and his first experience in fiction cinema is “Robin Hood” (1996). He co-directed a TV series, “Rezayate Family” in 1997 and then directed “This Film Is Not Important”, a short fiction on Iranian classic music which is still in post-production. “Unfinished Song”; his first feature was awarded and well received in International level. “Gradually…” is his second feature film.