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MOVIE REVIEW

'Last Supper' critiques Iran's societal structure

The film delivers a feminist protest via the tale of an architecture professor's marriage.

November 25, 2002|KEVIN THOMAS

Fereydoun Jeyrani's "The Last Supper" is the latest fiery feminist protest film from Iran, and Jeyrani has shrewdly expressed his sentiments in a brisk, appropriately tempestuous melodrama with an effective flashback structure. In tone "Supper" goes right up to the precipice of going over the top, but in his own way Jeyrani demonstrates the firm control and discipline that Todd Haynes brought to "Far From Heaven."

Mihan Mashreghi (Katayun Riahi) is an eminent professor of architecture who makes outspoken attacks on the wanton destruction of Iran's vintage architecture by untrammeled development. One of her impassioned lectures is interrupted by a man Mashreghi regards as a chief villain, a major builder (Atila Pesiani), who also happens to be her husband of 26 years. Witnessing her father's angry interruption is their daughter Setareh (Haniye Tavassoli), also her student, who becomes determined to persuade the couple to end their unhappy marriage. Also in the class is Mani Motaref (Mohammad Reza Golzar), a top student whom Setareh has set her heart on marrying.

Divorce remains such a taboo in Iran that it takes considerable effort, and the consequences escalate from the cruelly ironic to the outright tragic, a progression Jeyrani handles with such aplomb that it becomes a commentary in itself, suggesting that he could not have gotten away with his movie in Iran had it not been ultimately punitive at its climactic moment. Jeyrani inspires his cast, which includes Sorayya Ghasemi as Mihan's devoted and lifelong servant.

An endorsement of women's aspirations to living fulfilling personal and professional lives of their own choosing, "The Last Supper" is a polished film set in an environment so sleekly upscale that it could almost pass as an affluent part of Southern California. It is also yet another attack on the curse of the arranged marriage. In a telling remark to her distraught father Setareh tries to explain that neither he nor her mother are to blame for their miserable marriage but that responsibility lies with her grandfathers, who arranged it.

*

`The Last Supper'

MPAA rating: Unrated.

Times guidelines: Adult themes.

Katayun Riahi...Mihan Mashreghi

Mohammad Reza Golzar...

Mani Motaref

Sorayya Ghasemi...Afagh

Atila Pesiani...Mohsen Mashreghi

Haniye Tavassoli...Setareh Mashreghi

Presented by Laemmle Theatres and the Iranian Film Society. Writer-director Fereydoun Jeyrani. Producer Yadollah Shahidi. Director of photography Aziz Sa'ati. Music Fereydoun Shahbazian. Editor Nazanin Mofakham. Set designer Farhad Farsi. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes.

Exclusively at the Laemmle Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 274-6869.

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