Women Without Men

Posted in Movies by CulturalMining.com on September 15, 2009

womenwithoutmenWomen Without Men (2009)
Dir: Shiran Neshat
, based on the novel by Shahrnoush Parsipour

Women without Men is a Farsi-language film (shot in Morocco) adapted from the popular novel of the same name. It tells a story about a handful of women in Tehran who manage, during the brief period of nationalist Prime Minister Mossaddegh’s government (1951-53), to escape a life dominated by men. An upper-class woman, married to a general, leaves her husband to live in a house in a fruit orchard she has bought. A prostitute who is driven crazy by her work and a young woman who is supposed to become the second wife of a man she doesn’t want to marry both find there way to her Eden-like orchard. A fourth woman leaves her home to join the street politics she hears outside, and eventually joins the Communist Party. Through a series of complex, circular scenes the epic gradually unrolls its magic-realism style plot. Certain scenes remain in your mind long after the movie ends, such as party-goers quoting Camus and reciting classical Persian poetry, and women exchanging remarks in a foggy bathhouse.

I enjoyed this film but, never having read the novel, I found it difficult to keep track of all the characters and plot turns. In addition, the excessive use of faded tints and almost sepia tones throughout the movie distracts from the story. Still, the movie provides a glimpse at a part of Iranian history and a cosmopolitan culture seldom seen on a screen.
Dir: He Ping

The unfortunately-named Wheat is a new Chinese movie about two Qin soldiers who show up in a town in the country of Zhao during the Warring States period. One is an elite soldier who wants to return to his village to help with the wheat harvest, the other a bumbling ne’er-do-well. After being chased by Qin soldiers looking to kill all deserters they show up, wounded by a Qin arrowhead, in a village of their Zhao enemies. Since all men are fighting the war, it is a village of women without men. The soldiers convince the villagers that their troubles will soon be solved by telling them a vivid saga of their battles, but with the Zhao as the victors, instead of the Qin. The young noble woman of the village (Fan Bingbing) is intrigued, but the shamaness sees disturbing contradictions. Still, things go well until the tide turns…

The movie is beautifully shot with some great dramatic parts — especially the storytelling scene — and some good acting and writing, but that still doesn’t rescue a slow movie. It may have limited attraction for anyone not interested in ancient China.

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