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[Bending the rules] Chronicle of an Iranian emancipation

[Bending the rules] Chronicle of an Iranian emancipation

Bending the rules, written and directed by Behnam Behzadi, traces the last preparations of a young theatre company. The troupe gets ready to travel abroad in order to present one of its plays during a festival.

To leave the country, the young people lied to their parents, except Shahrzad (Neda Jebraeili) who chose to be honest to her father. By forbidding his daughter to leave, Shahrzad‘s father provokes an earthquake that will oppose two generations in a contemporary Iran.

With Bending the rules, Benham Behzadi confronts the emancipation of youth and the traditional patriarchal power of the Iranian society. Through the simple and human portrait of the passionate theatre company, the director even questions the religious and political foundations of his country. Even sometimes reminding L’esquive (2003) by Abdellatif Kechiche, Bending the rules reflects the will of modernity of the Iranian youth.

A theatrical mise-en-scène

The mise-en-scène is basic and smart. Like a theatre play, the feature film is cut up in tableaux. The movie is nonetheless built around a hand-held camera. No shot-reverse shot, the director favours two people’s profiles on screen and privileges the mobility of the camera. The viewer is directly immersed in the everyday life of the company and follows step by step the progression of the protagonists. The sound dimension is also very elaborated. Played live by the composer of the theatre company, the soundtrack proposes a crescendo uprising tension, in a sort of fusion with the plot. Centered on the character of Shahrzad, every actor gives a performance of great quality.

A unique piece for multiple messages

The director sets up a spiral alternating hopes and fears. Like the movie Une séparation (2012), directed by Asghar Farhadi, Bending the rules studies the implications of family conflict in a modern Iran. The issue of friendship is also one of the important aspects of this film. In fact, even in the theatre company, we find out different profiles, questions about their own families and even about the functioning of society. Moving from perception to perception, the film reminds us of Persepolis (2007) of Marjane Satrapi. Through an autobiographic story, Marjane had been able to create a modern and critical vision at the same time, of Iranian society. Bending the rules broaches sensibly the same themes by presenting diverse points of views. It is this melting pot that gives the film its narrative strength.

Bending the rules is a cinema play skillfully built which do not fall in the trap of melodrama. By questioning the value of friendship and the place of youth in current Iran, Behnam Behzadi respects the diversity of points of views and is not a moralist at all. A thoughtful and firmly modern piece which questions as much as it moves.

François Boulard

Gianni Castillo – Translation

Fiche technique
Film & Réalisateur: Bending the rules de Behnam Behzadi
Pays : Iran
Année : 2013
Durée : 94 minutes
Première diffusion : Mercredi 20 Novembre à 10h30 au Katorza