I recently watched the movie Taxi (watch trailer) with a friend at an Iranian friend’s recommendation. It has been about 3 years since I have watched any Iranian movies and I found it interesting to take a second look at Iran’s cinema after being constantly influenced by Hollywood style acting, filming, and storyline and also comparing my take with a non-Farsi-speaking fellow.
The movie takes its course on the streets of Tehran where a taxi driver (Jafar Panahi undercover) drives people to their destination and asks for no charge for his services. This movie is an amazing portray of how Iran’s vast culture and history have influenced people from different walks of life as each customer who gets in the cab; not long after the former, has a completely different set of morals, superstitions, and definition of justice. While I was impressed by the concept and the beautiful timely transition of the plot, I found the acting fake at times and found myself cringing a little while my friend seemed to be calm and completely focused on the plot.
Later when discussing the movie with my friend, I explained how I felt about the acting and how I was concerned about the translation because some characters used a strong slang which couldn’t be directly translated and I was concerned whether it has overshadowed his understanding of the characters but he told me he didn’t notice the bad acting I was talking about, only the personality variations and the social critique of the movie which was intended. Moreover, we almost had the same interpretations of the characters.
About the movie
The movie Taxi aka Taxi Tehran, directed by Jafar Panahi was released in 2015 after the director was banned from making movies in and traveling out of the country in 2010 and won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.
The movie -filmed on the streets Tehran- Iran- has many unavoidable social critical points that are completed by Nasrin Sotoudeh’s appearance playing a part as herself. Nasrin is a human rights activist who takes a taxi to visit the family of a known prisoner, Ghoncheh Ghavami – who is locked up in Evin. Ghonche Ghavami was arrested for trying to enter a stadium to watch men’s Volleyball game – as a woman –.
Human rights, a global language
Although the movie is in Farsi; a deeply cultural language filled with complex metaphors, it speaks to a global audience in the universal language of Human Rights which has led to Taxi’s global success. Discussing issues like freedom, feminism, and capital punishment, the movie points at global current issues and connects to a global audience regardless of any cultural barriers or linguistics.