Published Sep 15, 2009Set in Tehran in the '50s, Shirin Neshat's Women Without Men looks at the lives of four women facing their own unspoken crises amid political struggle in Iran.
Munis, 30 years old and unmarried, is a disgrace to her family, while her friend Faezeh is in love with a man who's about to get married. Farrokhlaqa is unhappy with her marriage to high society's top military man and dreams of the intellectual life she had in her youth. Disturbed and emaciated prostitute Zarin is, quite frankly, just creepy.
As the characters become increasingly involved with their problems, they become progressively more connected with one another, and eventually meet in an otherworldly orchard outside of Tehran. Alone together, they learn to start resolving their issues and finally come to control their lives.
But the tension surrounding each woman is mirrored by the worsening political situation in Tehran, as protestors take to the streets against the British and American-backed military coup that overthrew Iran's democratically elected prime minister. The stark reality of political struggle is contrasted with the surreal portrayal of the four women, making for a cinematically stimulating 97 minutes.
Quite literally, Women Without Men is a beautiful film to watch. Director Shirin Neshat is internationally acclaimed for her work as a visual artist, using photo and video portraits to depict the ways Muslim women experience the world. This film proves that she can bring the same potent images to the screen. It manages to mingle Iran's most pivotal periods in politics with a statement on the condition of women at that time.
Not to mention that every shot is carefully crafted to visual perfection. No small feat. (Essential Filmproduktion)