THE WASTELAND

  • Iran
  • 2020

Lotfollah has always loved Sarvar. Secretly. And melancholy. Because Sarvar, who works in the small brick factory where he is employed as a supervisor, has to keep her distance. Nevertheless, he protects her, looks after her and takes her to the city every week. But business is bad and so, after a harrowing speech from the factory owner, the workers slowly prepare to leave. No one knows what will become of them now, but Lotfollah, who was born forty years ago in this dusty, lost hinterland and cannot imagine a life anywhere else, is hit the hardest.

In his cleverly arranged debut drama, Iranian director Ahmad Bahrami works with repetitions and ellipses that allow him to elegantly change perspectives and focus on individual characters in seamlessly interlocking episodes. Filmed in crisp black and white, his camera is always deliberately a little too slow, groping in the dark or remaining completely on the spot, so that part of the action takes place outside the viewer's field of vision. But it is precisely this invisibility and practiced distance in which the enormous power of this reduced and at the same time striking cinematic work of art lies.

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