‘21 Days Later’ is Mohammad Reza Kheradmandan’s feature which premiered at the 35th Fajr Film Festival. it is one of pure and heartwarming first features. The directorial debut has emerged as very promising work of a young filmmaker, narrating a social drama far from any cinematic retouch and controversies.
The flick has revived the clichéd atmosphere of Iranian cinema, recounting a major problem by moving away from the dominant atmosphere of the mainstream cinema and thus creates an interesting and dramatic story.
‘21 Days Later’ is the story of a teenager named Morteza who loves cinema and filmmaking and does his best to make a film that could go to a short film festival. Yet his family's financial situation does not allow him to do so.
The director here has not fallen into the abyss of portraying misery and poverty, going beyond the situation of the family. Of course, poverty is one of the main elements of the film, but the driving force behind the story is Morteza's determination to solve his problems.
The teenager played by Mehdi Ghorbani, despite all his wishes, when he finds out that he needs money to treat his cancer-patient mother moves heaven and earth to get this done.
The interesting thing is that he does not give up his dream in this regard and it is still a dream that comes true for him. It is this realistic approach, along with the current hope in all parts of the film's plot, that makes the flick an attractive and daring one.
In fact, by depicting the problems of cancer patients from the perspective of a teenager, director has gone to the root causes. In the movie, no bedridden characters are depicted as commonly associated with cancer patients. Morteza's mother is healthy and working, occasionally in pain, her hair has fallen out, but none has disrupted her life.
After talking to his mother's doctor, Morteza fears that what will happen if his mother does not take her medication. Morteza's struggles, his running back and forth, are reminiscent of Amir Naderi's masterpiece ‘The Runner’.
Such disrespectful payment to the childish and hopeful world of Morteza distinguishes the film from its peers and makes it stand out. Traces of surrealism that we see in the film brings to life the childlike atmosphere of Morteza's mind, in addition to such a serious illness (cancer)--a world is imagined that an Indian yogi may be able to treat his mother.
But ‘21 Days Later' is also moving on the edge of slogan and superficiality at some points. Although class differences and family problems can each be the subject of an interesting film, since they have no place in this narrative and only reduce the cinematic aspects of the film, giving it a fit for the small screen. The hard work that the director has done to work with those who are often non-actors is praiseworthy.
With the exception of Mehdi Ghorbani, who has previously acted in some movies, the rest of the teens we see in the film are going in front of the camera for the first time, and the director has really done a great job in this regard. The fascinating and realistic performances of these actors make us forget that we are watching a movie, traveling between the lives of Morteza and those around him. We have seen this kind of acting in Iranian cinema before in Kiarostami's interactive documentaries.
The camera work and editing as well as light and sound engineering have ultimately contributed to the narrative of a teenager's life who spends the most important years of his life to grow up before his coming of age.
All in all, ’21 Days Later’ is a promise as a directorial debut for better things; But what this film reminds us is the motto we've been hearing all these years; "Cancer Costs More Than Pain." A motto that not everyone has understood so well.
Iranian film '21 Days Later' has been honored at the 25th edition of the Kinder Kino Film Festival (KiKiFe) in Germany.
ifilm has scheduled to air the acclaimed movie ‘21 Days Later’ on Saturday night.