23 April 2008 | corrosion-2
The Lower Depths
With Santoori, the famed Iranian director, Dariush Mehrjui has achieved the rare distinction of having had films banned in Iran both before and after the 1979 revolution (Dayereh Mina, AKA The Cycle and Santoori respectively). Both films share similar traits in that they try to show some aspects of the Iranian society that authorities would rather keep hidden: drug addiction and corruption in The Cycle and drug addiction and treatment of musicians in Iran in Santoori.
Ali Santoori is a musician (playing the Persian instrument Santoor), disowned by his wealthy family for having chosen music as a career, refused a license by the authorities to record and reduced to playing at private parties to earn a living. These hardships have forced him to drug addiction and affected Ali's relationship with his wife. Along the way, the movie makes strong statements about the life of the young, and specially artists and musicians, in Iran.
Santoori has all the usual Mehrjui hallmarks: strong characterization, rich and naturalistic dialogue and lack of stereotypes, even in the minor characters. This is best demonstrated in a scene where Ali visits his parents.
Santoori presents the juiciest role for a lead actor in Mehrjui films since Hamoon. Bahram Radan has risen to the occasion and gives an award worthy performance. He is well matched by Golshifteh Farahani as his suffering wife. Casting, as in all Mehrjui films, is near perfect. Another notable plus is the music and the songs which perfectly fit the scenes.