180° Rule: BFI London Film Festival Movie Review
See more of our BFI London Film Festival Coverage here.
180° Rule, so named after the cinematic principle of on-screen spatial relationships between characters (used especially in battle, interestingly enough) is a feature debut from Farnoosh Samadi. A hugely profound and telling tale, 180° Rule takes us to the hills of Tehran and to the most desperate parts of the human psyche in a way you won’t expect.
A Full 180
After a tragic turn of events at a family wedding, Sara, a teacher and mother, must make choices for which no-one could prepare her. A story of grief, trauma, and life-altering decisions, 180° Rule exceeded all my expectations in almost every department.
You know what they say about a picture and a thousand words. Well, 180° Rule is a lesson in just how true this sentiment can be. Sahar Dolatshahi’s performance is sombre and full of emotion behind her stoic exterior. Her silence, amidst the beautiful editing and soft colour palettes, speaks volumes. It’s in Dolatshahi’s lack of violent lamentation and the fracturing of her spirit that the film truly comes into its own. More moving than I ever anticipated, and more heart-wrenching, too, 180° Rule came as a tragic but welcome surprise.
The 180° Rule
One thing that I couldn’t shake initially was the subtitling. Admittedly my Farsi is rusty, and I know that I am bound to have a more critical eye toward these things, however the translation and captioning is hit and miss. Some typos, syntax errors, and missed idioms mean that even though the cinematography and delivery is spot on, the viewing experience for any non-Farsi speakers will be compromised a little. I have made mistakes in my fair share of translation jobs, it isn’t an easy thing to do. I will say that you do begin to notice these anomalies less and less as you become more and more engrossed in the film, which is a testament to the film itself.
Mother, Wife, Woman
180° Rule is a damning indictment of human nature and what it means to be a woman and a mother, especially within the confines of grief and fraught relationships. Iranian cinema has long and chequered history, and 180° Rule is a perfect addition for its modern era. A gut-punch of a film, Samadi’s debut feature feels like a promise of great things to come.
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