“Shab, Dakheli, Divar” (Beyond the Wall) Photocall – 79th Venice International Film Festival

The twist, when it eventually comes, is ingenious, if contrived: suffice to say, it establishes the film as being as much metaphysical as political, an existential riddler as much as a surveillance-state thriller. But it’s a pity that this dramatically overdrawn film takes so long getting to the point, essentially squandering its narrative tension once the initial suspenseful situation is established. The acting doesn’t always serve the drama, either: for much of the time, Mohammadzadeh maintains a glum muted monotone while Habibi cranks up to a frenzied pitch of nerved-up agitation. And there’s some overstatement that misfires: not least the overinsistent use of repetitive sound effects to bump up the anxiety level.

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September 8, 2022 | 6:38 pm