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HAMOUN (1990, IRN) – 7.5/10

Even today, Dariush Mehrjui’s darkly humorous psychological drama enjoys a cult status in Iran, and in the selection of local film critics in 1997, “Hamoun” was chosen as the best Iranian film of all time, dethroning “Cow” by the same director, which was considered the best film of this Central Asian film, from the first place. states in previous similar elections. This film also has a bit of a Fellini touch because the main protagonist Hamid Hamoun (Khosrow Sakibai) is constantly tormented by ugly, surreal dreams and nightmares. The film begins with one such dream, and through dreams and flashbacks to the past, Hamoun tries to figure out why his wife Mahshid (Bita Farrahi) wants to divorce him.

Although at first it seemed that “Hamoun” could be a film about divorce following the footsteps of Farhadi’s later “Nadir and Simin break up”, which brought this country its first Oscar, this is still a somewhat more abstract film. While Hamoun is a clerk in a trading company, his wife is a famous abstract painter and comes from a wealthy family that never looked kindly on her marriage to a lower-middle-class guy. After seven years of marriage, Mahshid seems to have completely cooled off from her husband, whom she seems to have outgrown and outgrown, and considers him childish and immature because she has been unsuccessfully trying to defend her doctoral thesis and become a writer for years.

Even before his wife decided to leave him, Hamoun was a pretty frustrated guy who blamed everyone else for his failures, and this hard-working and egotistical guy can’t figure out what happened to his wife that she suddenly doesn’t love and want him anymore live with him, she already wants a divorce. On the other hand, he doesn’t even want to hear about the divorce, partly because his marriage with Mahshid partly enabled him to live a relatively easy life and even enter the high society of the rich and powerful, which, clearly, he despises and cannot figure out. As the story develops, “Hamoun” will enter increasingly surreal and even absurd waters, and the increasingly helpless and desperate Hamoun will try to solve his problems first by attempting to kill his wife, and then by suicide.

Iranian film has always fascinated me because both stylistically and aesthetically it was completely different from Western film, with which it has almost nothing to do in terms of sensibility and poetics. It is Mehrjuia who is considered the “father” of modern Iranian cinema and the founder of the movement called the Iranian New Wave. His second film, i.e. the previously mentioned “Cow”, is today considered the first film of the Iranian new wave, and he introduced realism into Iranian film, as well as symbolism and the sensibility of art film. Italian neorealists such as Rossellini, De Sica and the greatest Indian filmmaker of all time, Satyajit Ray, stand out as his role models, but he did not copy other people’s styles, but brought something special, unique, typically Iranian into his films.