LFF 2020: 180 Degree Rule – Review

Release Date – TBC, Cert – TBC, Run-time – 1 hour 23 minutes, Director – Farnoosh Samadi

When she attends a family wedding against her husband’s (Pejman Jamshidi) will, Sara (Sahar Dolatshahi) experiences a tragic loss which leads to a succession of lies, secrets and spiralling worries.

Sara (Sahar Dolatshahi) is a school teacher who is trying to be as independent as possible. She helps her students along with the lightly progressive attitudes that she has in her own life – all with a dash of generosity and kindness. However, her independence leads her to severe trouble when she goes against her husband’s (Pejman Jamshidi) wishes that she does not attend a family wedding. While the initial plan is for the couple, and daughter Raha, to go outside of Tehran for a family wedding Hemad finds himself called on a work trip. With this being the case he tells his wife not to go to the wedding, however defying the conventions of a society where men and husbands have the final word Sara travels outside of the Iranian capital for the wedding.

However, tragedy strikes when the morning after the ceremony the love, harmony and celebrations are broken when Raha is found dead. The devastation hits hard. You find yourself grieving alongside the family as the tone of the film matches the cold, greyness of the surroundings. After a slightly uneven first 20 minutes things begin to come into themselves and the film starts to pave its course.

The family’s grief is rushed and held within as they travel back home, unable to actually give the reason as to how the young girl died so that Hamed doesn’t find out. Still devastated by the event and not properly able to speak about it, simply making her pain worse, Sara finds herself lying to her husband. The events begin to spiral and cause further worry and panic as questions are asked, fake steps are retraced and the lies become increasingly tense. Dolatshahi and Jamshidi create genuine tension as Hamed becomes increasingly threatening and angered about the death of his daughter, restlessly researching so he can get to the bottom of things and find some form of resolution.

The winding road of what some may see as karma is seemingly never-ending and full of tangents for both Sara and the audience. Just before the hour mark the film does begin to diverge into further worry, however as this happens things, of course, become even more complicated. Events spin faster and faster and with everything that’s going on, and one or two of the repeating ideas, the film does begin to stumble as it tries to keep up with its own story. The story might just be able to keep track of, however as it strays in a number of different directions it almost becomes lost within itself and feels uneven, much like the case of the first 20 minutes. There are some good ideas throughout the film, when they aren’t developed to a point where the film begins to feel uneven, especially when dealing with themes of worry and grief to create tension that turn the drama into something close to a mild thriller.

Sometimes uneven due to developing themes too much, the performances, especially of Dolatshahi and Jamshidi, within 180° Rule are strong and help to push the tensions of grief and worry over the course of the winding narrative.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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