Septembers of Shiraz Review

Septembers of Shiraz is a 2016 drama film directed by Wayne Blair, starring Adrien Brody, Salma Hayek, Anthony Azizi, Bashar Rahal, Alon Aboutboul and Shohreh Aghdashloo.  It is based on Dalia Sofer’s 2007 novel The Septembers of Shiraz and is set in post-revolution Tehran, where a wealthy Jewish businessman is summarily jailed and tortured, but along with his wife, fights for answers and freedom.


Positives:

  • Great performances by the main cast
  • Great cast
  • Compelling, well-written story
  • Emotionally impactful
  • Great score
  • Good editing
  • Great directing

Negatives:

  • n/a

Plot:  The film features a compelling story about justice, faith, and conflicting ideologies as these characters have to deal with this growing instability.  The film goes at a good pace but the characters and setting do keep the story engaging.  There are undertones that touch on the economic gap between the rich and the poor, walking that fine line between faith and extremism, and also the hypocrisy when it comes to revolution and the different agendas. The film does come to a satisfying conclusion.  (3 out of 5)

Characters: Isaac and Farnaz are the main characters of the film and they are likable.  They have a family, they’re generous, they’re good people.  Both are dealing with this situation and it’s taking its toll on both. There is the mental and physical torture that Isaac has to deal with just makes him such a sympathetic character. It’s very hard watching this family who had everything be reduced to nothing. Habibeh is one of those characters that’s likable and in an understandable situation, caught between ideas and loyalty.  Morteza is probably the worst character as he is a complete douchebag with little to no regard for anyone else, using the revolution for his own personal gain. Despite Mohsen being cruel he even shows character. (4 out of 5)

Cast: Great performances by the two main leads as well as the supporting cast.  Great chemistry between Adrien Brody and Salma Hayek. There is a question of should the two have been cast for the roles because of their ethnicity, but they do a phenomenal job. Great performance by Alon Aboutboul; he definitely has presence. The cast also includes Shohreh Aghdashloo, Anthony Azizi, and Bashar Rahal. (5 out of 5)

Visuals: This is just a beautifully shot film.  There is just this very grim look that reinforces the dark moments, especially when following the poor conditions surrounding Isaac.  There are some very intense moments especially the quiet ones between certain characters.  The clothing looks great, the set pieces look great. (3 out of 5)

Score: The film features a terrific score.  Mark Isham brings to the film a beautifully craft master piece that was subtle during the quiet moments as well as edgy for the more action oriented. The subtle use of the violin was executed perfectly. (3 out of 5)

Writing: Blair does a phenomenal job with the film.  He has a gift for capturing and fleshing out the emotional moments.  There is a good use of editing with some effective long takes. Wished there was more focus on the breakdown of society and how outside relations are influencing the chaos.  (4 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, Septembers of Shiraz is not only a great film but undoubtedly one of the best films of 2016.  The film has beautiful performances, a terrific cast, a great score, a compelling story, and great direction.  This film comes as a high recommend.  Septembers of Shiraz gets 4 out of 5.

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