mon 16/12/2019

Permission review - suspenseful melodrama of a true-life event | reviews, news & interviews

Permission review - suspenseful melodrama of a true-life event

Permission review - suspenseful melodrama of a true-life event

A chilling and poignant 88 minutes in the boots of futsal player Afrooz

Striking: Afrooz (Baran Kosari) with the Iran National Women's Fustal team

Permission tells the story of Afrooz, the captain of Iran's National Futsal Team, who is stopped from joining her team at the Asia Cup Final because of the last minute whim of her estranged husband. It is based on Iranian football player Niloufar Ardalan, who in 2015 missed the Iran v Japan final of the Asia Games in Malaysia when her sports journalist husband Mahdi Toutounchi, enforced the right given to him by Islamic shar'ia law to prevent her from leaving the country.

This second feature from director Soheil Beiraghi, described in his own words as, "an urban female Western”, shows the contemporary Iranian woman navigating a hostile urban landscape where patriarchy rules. Behavioural standards are paramount no matter the context, as team coach, (Sahar Dowlatshahi) in her pep talk minutes before a game focuses on the observance of the hijab and God's hand in their success, and warns against activities that are perceived "unladylike" which include social media postings form the locker room.PermissionBaran Kosari gives a convincing performance as Afrooz, distraught and defiant in turns, standing up to her puny TV show host husband (played by Amir Jadidi who drastically reduced his more familiar muscular physique for the role), their stand offs filled with suspense from the outset when he rear ends her car, and later in the cold intimacy of their plush apartment as he changes tactics. Afrooz too is encouraged to pander to male sensibilities "You're a woman, he's a man. Fix it". A scene which, as a woman, made uncomfortable viewing, the outcome put across indirectly (in Iranian cinema men and women cannot be shown touching) in a bathroom clip made all the more poignant.

The central female friendship between Afrooz and fellow team member, Masi (Hoda Zeinolabedin) who stands by her friend and does not take the team flight to Malaysia, is ambiguous, hinting at homosexuality and becoming strained as events unfold. The thriller elements of the film take place inside cars, adding pace. A touch of humour is provided with the fast talking female lawyer (Lili Rashidi) who convinces Afrooz that their most effective strategy is a social media campaign, and interviews with foreign media - anathema to the Islamic Republic. 

Also in the tongue in cheek presentation of Afrooz's husband Yasser, host of a fictional Iranian state TV show The Good Old Days, who is set up as the creep who belittles his wife when he's threatened by her success, listening to slushy music, having his hair blow-dried - a stark reminder that Iranian women are prohibited from showing their hair let alone blow-drying it in view. The men here exert power in the easiest way, hiding behind laws invented to minimise threats to their authority. Permission is a masterly portrayal of a reality affecting women in too many countries.

Baran Kosari gives a convincing performance as Afrooz, distraught and defiant in turns

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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