A Man of Integrity
Reza Akhlaghirad, Soudabeh Beizaee, Nasim Adabi,
Power struggles and moral compromises feed an escalating conflict when an uncompromising fish farmer clashes with his neighbor and a powerful company that has its sights set on his land. In a country where, as one character puts it, “you’re either the oppressed or the oppressor,” farmer Reza tries to be neither, living by his own strict personal code, but ingrained corruption and escalating threats put mounting pressure on his values. Winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
“Mohammad Rasoulof’s drama exerts a tension which builds along with the piscine body count [in this] satisfyingly gritty addition to Iran’s tradition of humanist cinema. . . . Rasoulof effectively conveys the rhythms of Reza’s life; squelching around in waders tending his fish, then brewing batches of covert hooch in doctored watermelons. These are disrupted by the pileup of catastrophes and Reza looks on helplessly, a rubbernecker watching the car crash of his own life.”—Wendy Ide, Screen Daily
“Rasoulof, in a similar situation to countryman Jafar Panahi, is largely banned from filmmaking in his country, recently had his passport revoked and sits beneath the Sword of Damocles that is a suspended prison sentence for dissident activity. The bizarre catch-22 that is to be a filmmaker at work in, and now confined to, the one country in the world where your films will not be shown could drive a lesser director to distraction, but Rasoulof’s film, while understandably angry, is nothing if not single-minded. It’s a saturnine morality tale that unfolds in shades of rainy gray beneath leaden, overcast skies, gritting up the nation’s cinematic tradition of humanist drama to an almost unrecognizable degree.”—Jessica Kiang, The Playlist