(( Another story about another Iranian woman who is a Film Director and a political Activist ))----- Pilot
'Under the Skin of the City' explores life in Iran
By James Ward
Friday, October 10, 2003
Tulare Advance Register
The most striking thing about the Iranian film "Under the Skin of the City," the latest installment in Signature Theatres' Independent Film Series, is what you won't see.
There are no shots of mosques, religious rallies or mobs burning American presidents in effigy. In fact, there's almost no hint of religion -- unless you count the ever-present burqa and veils worn by women -- in the brisk drama.
What you will see in "Under the Skin of the City" is a bleak depiction of urban life in Tehran, the country's biggest city. The family at the center of the film doesn't have much time to worry about America, terrorism or any other geopolitical concerns. They're too busy scratching out a living and keeping a roof over their heads.
"Skin" concentrates on a hard-nosed matriarch named Tuba (Golab Adineh), a mother of four children who struggles to keep her family together in the face of mounting problems. Chief among her concerns: Her youngest son is a political activist and university student who keeps on getting arrested at pro-Democracy rallies and her oldest daughter -- pregnant with her second child -- is married to an abusive husband.
It doesn't help that Tuba doesn't get much support from her disabled husband, Mahmoud (Mohsen Ghazi Moradi).
The only person she can turn to is Abbas (Mohammad Reza Forutan), who works as a delivery man for a shady businessman. His plan is to earn enough to pay for a visa that would allow him to work in Japan, where a good construction job would earn enough money to let his sister move back into the family home.
Things don't go as planned, of course, as the movie marches to its inevitable, tragic conclusion. Director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, Iran's leading feminist filmmaker and advocate of democratic reform, gives the movie a one-note feel, making it more of a political polemic than a movie.
Aside from one charming moment when the entire family goes out for a "fancy" meal -- pizza at what looks like a fast-food eatery -- the movie is a cold, humorless affair.
Still, there's a lot to admire about "Skin," especially the central performance by Adineh as the matriarch of the family. She may be forced to take a subservient role in public, but as soon as she enters the family home, you have no doubt who runs things.
But what really makes "Under the Skin of the City" worthwhile is its frank depiction of Iran, a country that most Americans know only as one part of President Bush's "Axis of Evil." If this movie is any evidence, Iran has much more important things -- economic survival, the struggle for political reform and the basic human rights of women -- on its mind than threatening the United States. http://www.tulareadvanceregister.com/news/stories/20031010/localnews/429328.html