by Sara Saljoughi
Tehroun is a captivating directorial debut by Nader T. Homayoun that is likely to surprise anyone who walks into the viewing with a preconceived notion of what “Iranian cinema” is as a whole. Homayoun made the feature-length documentary Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution, this is his first feature-length narrative. The title of the film refers to the colloquial pronunciation used by Iranians when saying “Tehran.”
Critics have called the film a “crime thriller,” in reference to the film’s narrative which follows the actions of Ibrahim (Ali Ebdali), who uses a rented baby to gain sympathy while begging for money on the street and who is on the run from a gang chief the rest of the time that we are with him.
The film’s pacing is a far cry from Iranian films like Taste of Cherry; it is fast-paced and sheds light on hidden corners and subsections of Iran’s capital.
Homayoun’s Tehran is stricken with poverty and his characters do what they can to get by: violence, begging, smuggling, prostitution.
Fortunately, Homayoun doesn’t succumb to the temptations of what an Iranian-style Slumdog Millionaire might bring him in terms of fame and success. His narrative keeps us guessing and gives no easy rewards.
As such, his particular representation of the city, via the travails of Ibrahim, is an open and blank-faced exploration of what is merely suggested in other Iranian films.
Sara Saljoughi is a graduate student in Comparative Studies in Discourse & Society at the U of M. Her areas of research are cinema, critical theory, Iranian studies and postcolonial theory. She has published film and music reviews in Exclaim!, Broken Pencil and Foxy Digitalis. She blogs at http://sarainamerica.blogspot.com/