Beginning in 1929 and ending in the present day, Kianoush Ayyari’s powerful drama is about so-called honor killing, a taboo subject in modern Iran. The action, which is confined to the closed-off world of a family house and its grounds, with outside reality only impinging in the form of sounds and rumors, starts with a father murdering his daughter in an act of honor killing. With the complicity of his wife and son, he buries her corpse in the cellar. Family life continues, haunted by the shared knowledge of the murder across several generations. This conspiracy of silence and the film’s exploration of the nature of complicity make for a powerful commentary on life in Iran, but Ayyari constructs his fable in such a fashion that ultimately it transcends nationality, culture, and religion and comes to depict the structure and inner workings of totalitarianism itself.
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