The foibles of human nature are clearly delineated in Darioush Merhjui's THE TENANTS, a bracing social-satire-cum-slapstick-comedy from Iran.
In a suburb of Tehran stands a newly constructed apartment building, in some disrepair. Its tenants are a composite of all walks of life. The landlord of the building, while on a visit to Dusseldorf, Germany, has apparently died in a train crash. This leaves the ownership of the property up for
grabs under the "heir-uncertain" law of Iran. The apartment manager, Abbas Derakhshesh (Ezatolah Entezami), is persuaded by the owner of a real estate agency to forge documents transferring the title of the building to his name. The plan is to make the present tenants move out so he and the real
estate agents can take over the building. The occupants, however, are unwilling to move. To force them out, the manager refuses to make any repairs in the apartments, enfuriating the tenants. A rival real estate agent informs the tenants that they are being subjected to this underhanded scheme by
their manager. He advises the occupants to hire their own workmen to repair their apartments and then they will be eligible for ownership of the building under the "heir-uncertain" law.
The occupants are a cross-section of the social strata of the country. One of the apartments is inhabited by an intellectual and his wife; in another lives an opera singer who practices his art at the drop of a hat. Two brothers, one of whom is large in girth and small in mind, become the butt of
many of the pratfalls in the film. In the story's climax the entire building is flooded by an avalanche of water that is let loose from the roof of the building, where it had been stored in a gigantic water tower. The water flows through the building with great force. Picking up speed as it goes
down the stairways and through the apartments, it takes everything with it: a flood and purge of the property at the same time. What is left is a gutted structure. The tenants realize they now have to start from square one, to get their house in order and continue their lives.
Writer-director Mehrjui's (HAMOUN) comedy goes beyond landlord-tenant relationships in this symbolic, stylized film. He deftly uses as a metaphor the meeting of the minds between the different groups of society--intellectuals, workers, businessmen, artists, women, bureaucrats and the
unemployed--who exchange their views heatedly in the film. The ensemble of the excellent Iranian cast does full justice to their roles, and director of photography Hassan Gholizadeh enhances the film with his work. (Violence, profanity.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: NR
- Review: The foibles of human nature are clearly delineated in Darioush Merhjui's THE TENANTS, a bracing social-satire-cum-slapstick-comedy from Iran. In a suburb of Tehran stands a newly constructed apartment building, in some disrepair. Its tenants are a compos… (more)