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average rating is 4 out of 5


William Hemingway


Posted on:

Jan 26, 2023

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Meran Ismailsoy and Anya Chirkova
Written by:
Maziyar Khatam
Amir Zavosh, Maziyar Khatam, James Choy, Sina Djamshidiat

Baba's life appears to be falling apart but the thing is he doesn't seem to be helping himself either. Right now he's expecting a visitor who is coming over to his small flat to buy something from him but the smoke alarm is going off, the landlord has descended to demand months of backdated rent and everything around seems to be total chaos.


Baba (Zavosh) is an Iranian immigrant who despite living in the West for some time still doesn't speak or understand English, so his landlord's (Choy) pleas and protests keep falling on deaf ears. Rather manipulatively though, Baba has called his son Reza (Khatam) over from out of one of his university lectures, by feigning an emergency, just so that he has someone to translate for him as he deals with the multiple problems that seem to keep mounting up.


Soon the buyer (Djamshidiat) arrives, knocking on the door and being led into the already busy scene. He is there to buy a painting, something created by Baba's ex-wife which looks like a panel from Persepolis (2007) and which still holds significance and emotional resonance for the rest of the family. Right now though, Baba is willing to sell it on for a few hundred bucks which he reckons is going to get him out of the hole he's in, at least for now, and then he'll be able to get back on with his hedonistic, self-destructive lifestyle.


So, with everyone at odds with one another and the buyer trying to extract whatever advantage he can from the situation, Reza is left trying to put all the pieces of his father's life back together despite Baba seemingly doing his best to keep things fractured and chaotic. It's all very stressful and intense and if something isn't released soon from this pressure cooker of a tiny flat then something is bound to break.


Billed as a 'fever dream dark comedy', Baba is a lot of the time so intense and confrontational that it can be hard to see where the funny lies. It is in there though, with the over the top caricatures represented on screen using filthy, offensive language on one another while their psychopathic natures are given free rein to play out without much fear of reprisal. This is all underpinned though by a deep seated seriousness which is firmly embedded in the scenario as well as the background characterisation. Baba's issues arise from his psychoses, created by the fallout of his divorce and his inability to integrate into his new surroundings whilst simultaneously drowning himself in the vices of its open and permissive culture. No wonder Reza is having a hard time trying to sort it all out.


The performances from all four leads are very strong with Amir Zavosh as Baba coming across as a perfectly odious narcissist with a playful twinkle in his eye and Sina Djamshidiat giving a decidedly perverse turn as the shifty buyer. Co-directors Meran Ismailsoy and Anya Chirkova do a great job with an over-the-shoulder point of view which helps the viewer gain the feeling that they are also caught up in the melange while everyone tries to get what they want from each other.


Baba is not an easy watch and not necessarily a fun(ny) one either but it does make its point very well. Some very personal writing from Maziyar Khatam helps Baba to hit home where it hurts and if you can find your way through to spending fifteen minutes with some truly terrible people you may also be able to find the wry humour in some rampant self-destruction.

About the Film Critic
William Hemingway
William Hemingway
Short Film, World Cinema
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