Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Over a year ago I expressed a wish to watch the Iranian film Marmoulak (The Lizard). Lack of availablity, the absence of subtitles and sheer laziness on my part did not help matters. However, I finally got round to watching the film recently and it didn't disappoint. Peter Bradshaw had the following to say about it as his usually frugal hand dished out 4 stars:

Not many Iranian films look like this: part caper, part satire. It's a world away from the opaque style of Kiarostami or Makhmalbaf - think Billy Wilder. Reza (Parvis Parastui) is a cat-burglar nicknamed the Lizard for his ability to scale walls, who walks out of jail by stealing a mullah's gown. He's immediately mistaken for the new head of a local mosque, a pretence he brazens out with such spontaneity that he sparks an extraordinary moral revival in his community.
It's a wonderful film that avoids the tangential confrontation with authority adopted by others in favour of some genuinely funny (yet poignant) comedy. In addition to his clerical robes, the Lizard's eponymous protagonist steals a concept from the same man of the cloth: there are as many paths to God as there are people. Sceptical of the notion himself he nonetheless peddles it to great advantage amongst his host community and the idea serves to catalyse their spiritual rejuvenation as well as his own eventual transformation. He is forced into giving ingenious answers to tricky legal questions regarding the technicalities of life in outer space by mesmerised youth. His first attempt at leading the congregational prayers is a visual delight as is his scaling of walls in full clerical garb.

A refreshing and challenging film. Highly recommended.

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