Tehran Taboo

Director: Ali Soozandeh
Year: 2017
Rating: 7.5
Country: Germany

This mature animated feature follows four characters living under the harsh religious and patriarchal moral strictures of the Revolutionary Guard and the Ayatollahs of Iran. I found it rather fascinating on many levels - the desperation, the corruption, the underground black market for everything from abortions to forged documents, the hopelessness, the omnipresent stern presence of the Ayatollahs on TV, in billboards and the religious police patrolling the streets for bad behavior. The four intertwining characters try to maneuver their way through the labyrinth bureaucracy where papers are needed for everything and only connections can get things done.

This is in Persian and directed by an Iranian but within a few minutes it is very clear that he must be in exile as a woman and a child get into a taxi and the driver realizes immediately that she is a prostitute and gives her money for oral sex while driving with her mute son in the back. When he sees his daughter holding hands he freaks out and crashes. Another one of the characters is a struggling musician who one night at a club on ecstasy has sex with a woman in the bathroom. The next day she calls him and tells him that he took her virginity and that she needs it restored by surgery by the time she gets married next week. And he has to come up with the money. Another woman seems to be living a normal married life taking care of her husband and his parents but underneath the surface a lot of repressed secrets are bubbling to the surface.

It just gets bleaker and bleaker with a slightly drunken dirty call to a man by one of the women unraveling everything in a land where the religious authorities are ready to crush you for infractions of any kind. There are wonderful small cynical moments throughout that are both humorous and sad at the same time. I wonder if this is being pirated in Iran and what people there think of it? Sacrilegious? Revealing? There is no light at the end of this tunnel. I love the animation here done with rotoscope and the scenes of simply driving through the city or seeing Tehran from on top of a building are marvelous.