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An Iranian director offers a comic take on a big issue

July 07, 2006|Kevin Thomas | Special to The Times

Tahmineh Milani's "Cease Fire" offers quite a contrast to the many Iranian films exposing the oppression of women under Islamic rule. To be sure, Milani is serious about making the case for truly modern marriage but takes a comic approach to it.

The film's beautiful young wife (Mahnaz Afshar), in her feminist fervor, does everything possible to antagonize rather than enlighten her handsome male chauvinist husband (Mohammad Reza Golzar). In doing so, she is actually the less sympathetic of the two.

"Cease Fire" is no art film but, rather, mainstream fare that's likely to appeal primarily to Farsi-speaking audiences. It is talky, too long at 1 hour, 44 minutes and tends to be preachy and tedious.

Afshar's Sayeh, a building project engineer, has met Golzar's Yousef, a contractor and paint manufacturer, on the job. They clash instantly and continue right up to the altar. After two years of nonstop bickering, Sayeh seeks out a divorce attorney but mistakenly ends up in the office of a therapist (Atila Pesyani), who offers her much long-winded counsel. His basic point, which he is not shy about reiterating, is valid: Sayeh and Yousef are prisoners of their 5-year-old inner selves and will continue to make each other miserable until they grow up.

Specifically, Sayeh needs to stop humiliating and ranting at her husband, especially in public, over every slight or shortcoming, real or imagined, while Yousef needs to rethink his rigid insistence on being an old-fashioned husband, who believes a woman's place -- one of subservience, naturally -- is in the home.

Unfortunately, Milani tends to be as didactic as she is sensible.

*

`Cease Fire'

MPAA rating: Unrated.

An IR Films release. Writer-director Tahmineh Milani. Producer Mohammad Nikbin. Director of photography Alireza Zarrindast. Editor Mastaneh Mohajer. Music Naser Cheshm Azar. Production designer Nikbin. In Farsi with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes.

At Laemmle's Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 274-6869

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