Septembers Of Shiraz
Salma Hayek, Adrien Brody, Shahreh Aghdashloo
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…fast moving and passably exciting…
The unexplained title of this film presumably refers to the Iranian town of Shiraz rather than the drink, because it’s set in Iran. Then again, it would make sense either way, because the main characters are a couple who enjoy a bit of partying and the odd tipple. The problem with this is that it’s 1979, just after the Islamic revolution which swept the Ayatollah Khomeini to power and ushered in a period of fantaticism and brutally enforced temperance and puritanism.
It also presaged a climate of religious intolerance and class war, which makes Isaac (Adrien Brody) and Farmez (Salma Hayek) – who, in addition to their liberal outlook, are Jewish and affluent – prime targets on at least three counts. Neither of them is especially politically minded – he’s a gemologist and jeweller, and she’s a housewife who’s done a bit of travel writing – but that doesn’t deter The Revolutionary Guard from arresting Isaac and accusing him of dealings with Mossad. Things get very heavy pretty quickly: he’s thrown into a hellhole of a prison, bashed, interrogated, and subjected to mock executions.
Septembers Of Shiraz (the first international work from Australian director, Wayne Blair, who helmed The Sapphires) is fast moving and passably exciting, but it’s also simplistic, and doesn’t entirely cut the mustard as a snapshot of history or even, particularly, as a love story. While the barbarity of the new regime is true to life, there’s not enough contextual emphasis on the horrors of previous conditions under the Shah and his odious Savak security police, even though one character does ask, “Why should some people live like kings and the rest like rats?” Brody and Hayek’s unconvincing accents don’t help either.