Directed by Ali Asgari (2017, 89 min.). Digital.
In an Iranian culture that operates within strict social mores, Sara, a university student, and her boyfriend Hamed allow their youthful naïveté to get the best of them. Sara is injured unexpectedly and needs surgery—but because the young couple has a secret to hide, none of the hospitals, whether public or private, will give Sara more than the most basic medical attention. As the night wears on, Sara’s medical requirements become more urgent, solutions become increasingly farfetched, and the pair’s relationship teeters on the brink of collapse.
As the troubled couple at the center of the film, first-time actors Sadaf Asgari and Amir Reza Ranjbaran shine in remarkably natural performances that capture all the awkwardness of early adulthood—somewhere in between bewilderment and indignation—when faced with restrictive social norms. While director Ali Asgari’s film criticizes to some extent the highly regimented and perhaps invasive nature of the Iranian state, it also asks pointed questions of the lack of compassion of individuals who hold authority within the system—whether they are following the rules or exploiting the need to break them. Disappearance is an exploration of what hangs in the balance when bleakness overpowers hope.
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The Boston Festival of Films from Iran is supported by the ILEX Foundation with assistance from Olga Davidson and Niloo Fotouhi.