Review: Septembers of Shiraz
Director: Wayne Blair
By Joanne Riach
Septembers of Shiraz showcases Adrien Brody (The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Salma Hayek (Some Kind of Beautiful) at their best.
Glorious white tip mountains sit in a clear blue sky behind the city of Tehran, Iran. The BeeGees’ “Stayin’ Alive” accompanies this opening scene revealing the year 1979, casting a whimsical feeling over the audience. This scene is the only one of its kind as the story immediately reinforces a contrasting tone, one of indifference, fear and justice. In the midst of the anti-western revolution, Issac (Adrien Brody), a Jewish gemologist, is quickly arrested by a group of revolutionaries plunging the story head first into action. In his defense, his wife Farnez (Salma Hayek), and daughter Shirin are left to battle the threatening activists and their dishonest work associates alone, whilst their son, Parviz, remains helpless at a boarding school in the United States.
Hayek, commonly known to play the stereotypical Latino love interest in rom-coms, thrusts real intensity into her role as the emotionally, strong, affluent wife surviving a future of the unknown. Under scrutiny for her own journalistic works, Farnez composes witty dialogue and capability when faced with revolutionary guards and close relationships turning against her.
Imprisoned and interrogated about his position, religion and revenue, Issac endures inhumane torture and an uncertainty of his life and the wellbeing of his family. Brody’s performance is moving on every level. It is this plotline that holds interest above all else in the film; will he or won’t he survive?
The only negative, unless you can lip read, is the imitated Iranian accents. Conversations at times are muffled and the names of revolutionaries are a question mark because of this.
Many films are derived from novels and this one is no exception. First-time novelist Dalia Sofer wrote Septembers of Shiraz, a story close to her heart, almost autobiographical, being born in Tehran and fleeing in 1972.
Septembers of Shiraz is a story of love, freedom, family and perseverance. One for suspense seekers, or anyone looking to broaden their cultural horizons.