Hamoun

The male midlife crisis has been examined in innumerable American features over the years, from the harrowing SAVE THE TIGER to the slapstick 10. Director-writer Darioush Mehrjui now tackles the subject in HAMOUN, but what is unusual about this film is its setting in contemporary Iran. Hamid Hamoun (Khosro Shakibai), an executive in a large import-export...read more

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The male midlife crisis has been examined in innumerable American features over the years, from the harrowing SAVE THE TIGER to the slapstick 10. Director-writer Darioush Mehrjui now tackles the subject in HAMOUN, but what is unusual about this film is its setting in contemporary Iran.

Hamid Hamoun (Khosro Shakibai), an executive in a large import-export business, is a frustrated writer who also works as a part-time English instructor. He feels alienated from Iranian society, bound by its conventions yet unwilling to abide by rigid laws. His wife Mahshid (Bita Farrahi) is

unhappy with their marriage. She has had her fill of his macho attitude and wants to get a divorce. (Unfortunately, she's living in a culture that does not provide her with equal rights; the Islamic law forbids women from divorcing their husbands except under special circumstances.) Hamoun is

devastated; he's been so preoccupied with his own sense of failure and inability to adjust to modern society that her needs have been completely overlooked. Mahshid, discussing her husband's brutal behavior with her psychiatrist, is reminded that it's common for Iranian men to be terrorized by the

life they live and then terrorize in return. In the quicksand of their emotional desires, husband and wife struggle to find their own solid ground.

HAMOUN is a psychological, philosophical and sociological study of life in contemporary Iran from a middle-class point of view. It is nonjudgmental, but does not evade the issues. Dariush Mehrjui has used his expertise to bring us a work that reflects the culture he lives in, probing the conflict

of living in a modern society still clinging to ancient traditions with compassion and insight. In attempting to come to terms with the contradictions and uncertanties that modern man is faced with every day, Mehrjui effectively conveys that, though Hamoun lives in the Third World, his problems

are universal and recognizable by all.

Technically accomplished and beautifully acted, HAMOUN is a fascinating work. It also underscores the fact that, despite censorship, filmmakers in Iran have been doing an extraordinary job of communicating personal and political themes. (Violence, sexual situations, adult situations.)

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