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A House Built On Water | Khanei ruye ab (2002)
An eight-year-old Hafiz of all Qoran goes into a coma, while reciting Qoran. A very successful gynecologist, Dr. Sepidbakht runs over an angel, while driving under the influence of alcohol.
He does not believe in anything and his life is in free-fall. He, too, is in a moral coma. A young girl who is about to marry, discovers that she has AIDS, and decides not to tell the groom.
A group of unknown men pursue the doctor to take revenge. They, too, are in a coma of hate.
A HOUSE BUILT ON WATER is the story of a society in a collective coma. A cry for help and a search for solution for a nation that 65 percent of its population are under 25. Is there any hope? Yes, but at what price?
Producers:Bahman Farmanara Director of Photography:Mahmoud Kalari Editor:Abbas Ganjavi Production Designer: Zhila Mehrjuie Music: Ahmad Pezhman
Living without a hope is something like a house built on water.
I was doing research about the children who were memorizing the Holy Qu’ran, when the idea of the film came to me. Subsequently, the script became the story of a boy had gone into a coma while reciting the Holy Qu’ran, and a gynecologist who is morally corrupt and at a dead-end in his emotional life.
Their paths cross in a hospital where the boy is in coma and thus the life of the doctor takes a new twist...
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The midlife crisis of a successful professional man is put into the perspective of eternity in "A House Built on Water," an ambitious film that attempts, not always successfully, to integrate realistically depicted life in today's Iran with a poetically mystical dimension.
The second feature helmed by veteran director and producer Bahman Farmanara since he moved back to Iran, it follows his autobiographical "Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine" with further reflections on the state of the country.
Pic is notable for its cool layman's view of topics ranging from abortion and drug addiction to prostitution and beyond. Its utterly modern outlook makes it a rarity on the Iranian scene and probably earmarks it for domestic success (it won best film in the national competition).
Offshore, its very modernity and sophistication may reduce its curiosity value for markets attuned to Iranian exoticism and simplicity.
The fact that the film's weary hero, Dr. Reza Sepidbakht (Reza Kianian), is a gynecologist in a world where women are obliged to hide every feminine attribute sets up the battle lines of hypocrisy vs. cynical reality.
He lives alone with the servants in a mansion out of "Dallas," barely conscious of his wife and children living in the U.S. and insensitive to his aged father's unhappiness in a rest home.
Surrounded by miffed nurses and secretaries who are his cast-off lovers, Reza spends drunken nights with call girls. Then one night, he runs over an "angel." Touching the creature, he burns his hand with a wound that will not heal.
This, and the recurring image of an old woman weaving together the threads of destiny, serve as reminders that there's more to life than sex and money.
In the hospital, Reza is strangely moved by an 8-year-old boy who has become a media phenomenon because he's able to recite the Koran by heart.
He's in a coma and his greedy family is desperate with fear that they won't be able to exploit him anymore. Almost simultaneously, Reza's teenage son Mani (Mehdi Safavi) turns up for a visit.
But he is arrested at the airport for carrying heroin, plunging Reza into a nightmare in which he is called on to express love and responsibility.
Reaching for poetry and mysterious depths, Farmanara's elusive narrative stumbles over thriller elements that lower the tone. Reza's evil secretary (Hedye Tehrani), whom he foolishly trusts, informs someone of his every move.
When his antagonists are finally visualized, they're dressed like hit men from "Mission: Impossible." Pic opts for a surreal, confused, mystical finale that feels more like wish fulfillment on Reza's part than his spiritual rescue.
Believably cynical as the doctor, Kianian still earns sympathy for his struggle to get through life fighting off feelings of guilt. Ezat Entezami is equally rounded as his cantankerous old dad who refuses to repent for his mistakes.
Art director Jilla Mehrjui makes the film beautiful to look at, filling Reza's home with paintings, sculpture and fine taste. The air of mystery is enhanced by Ahmad Pejman's haunting score for reeds and harps.
A Nima and Mani Farmanara presentation of a Bahman Farmanara production
After a twenty-year break, director Bahman Farmanara made a magnificent comeback last year with Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine, and went on to win three awards this year, including that of Best Film and Best Actor, at the Fajr Film Festival.
This is the story of a cynical middle-aged doctor, who is facing a professional and family crisis.
His self-exploration and reflections and his daily encounters with patients from different social backgrounds, gives us a panoramic view of the social issues plaguing Tehran.
Separated from his wife and children, who have emigrated to America and with a father (magnificently played by Ezzatolah Entezami) put away in an old people’s home in Iran, Reza is wasting his time.
After casual affairs, he enters a non-committal relationship with his secretary, which ends with an abortion. When his young son comes back to visit him, a drug dealer and addict, a new series of events changes his solitary life.
This surrealist thriller boasts first class actors and magnificent photography by Iran’s leading DP, Mahmud Kalari. -- Rose Issa