There Is No Evil
Director: Mohammad Rasoulof
Stars: Ehsan Mirhosseini, Kaveh Ahangar, Mohammad Valizadegan, Mohammad Seddighimehr, Mahtab Servati, Baran Rasoulof, Jilla Shahi
Shot almost guerrilla-style then smuggled out of Iran after the writer-director was banned from filmmaking, Mohammad Rasoulof’s meditative picture consists of four separate segments revolving around the theme of capital punishment. The first titular episode follows Heshmat (Mirhosseini) a regular family man going about his quotidian business while preparing for a family wedding before going to work. It’s at this point that the director delivers a devastating rug-puller. In the second part ‘You Can Do It’ a conscripted soldier Pouya (Ahangar) is struggling with his conscience when he is ordered to carry out an execution. ‘Birthday’ has another, more duty-conscious soldier Javad (Valizadegan) visiting the house of the family of his sweetheart Nana (Servati) for a party, where a revelation toxifies the celebration. In concluding episode ‘Kiss Me’, a middle-aged couple (Seddighimehr and Shahi) gird themselves to tell a family secret to their liberal, forward-looking niece Darya (Rasoulof) who has been studying in Germany. This is a nuanced and provocative exploration of morality, personal responsibly and the extent of culpability of those living in an authoritarian state. At its best, in the first two gripping episodes, it almost achieves the fable-like power and potency of Kieslwoski’s ‘Decalogue’. The latter segments feel comparatively underwhelming, but this is nonetheless an intelligent and thought-provoking work.