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ifilm bipolar drama 'My Brother Khosrow' reviewed

If you are interested in psychological dramas, don't miss 'My Brother Khosrow' with a different theme on mentally challenged people.

Rave review of ifilm's pick for this weekend compares  'My Brother Khosrow' to classic masterpiece of world cinema 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'.

Movies on intellectually disabled people are just not so many around in Iranian cinema and this also holds true in the case of movies hailing from international cinema.

A rave review on 'My Brother Khosrow' praises the theme of the flick and has likened it to impressive international movies such as 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' by Miloš Forman.

In ‘My Brother Khosrow’, the key character of the film has bipolar disorder. Technically speaking, this neurological disorder has signs and symptoms that should be observed in the characterization of Khosrow (played by Shahab Hosseini) and his actions and behavior in the film.

In part of the film, the physician treating Khosrow says his bipolar disorder is the beginning of the mania phase. This type of disorder is associated with happiness and excitement, excessive energy and optimism, feeling superior, having a lot of new and exciting ideas and jumping from one idea to another while getting nervous when people don’t believe in the patient's short-lived happiness coupled with daydreaming.

Such disorder leads to reluctance or inability to sleep, unrealistic ambitions, mood swings, unexpected behaviors, quick-talking, hasty decisions that sometimes lead to dire consequences, feelings of intimacy, and excessive feelings for alcoholism and drug addiction.

Mentioning the symptoms for bipolar disorder here does not suggest that the flick must be a training course of psychology. Conversely, such a character in daily life and his treating family members should manifest some unbalanced behavior on different occasions.

The filmmaker does not reveal much in the opening part of the film. In a way that we can't even guess in this situation, we are facing such a psychological disorder. Perhaps this is a prelude to creating suspense for the viewers and a gradual move from temporary calmness to a critical and tense situation. As the movie moves on, the realization of signs  for bipolar affective disorder in the leading role is still far and few between.

A few examples include Khosrow's guitar playing in a rebellious manner, playing with a ball inside the room and throwing it against the wall in the middle of the night, getting annoyed by the incessant sound of a car alarm in the alley and going there to smash the car window. The list goes on to include making a mess out of his brother Nasser's (play by Nasser Hashemi) room and sticking old photos from a family album to the wall.

Shahab Hosseini does not offer a different and surprising game in showing and performing this action or nervous and aggressive reactions while most of us are reminded of Hojjat's nervous reactions in Asghar Farhadi's film ‘A Separation’.  On the contrary, he has more success as well as an influential presence in stillness and ‘inner’ situations.

A striking example is the final scene of the film in which Khosrow sits in the back seat of his brother’s car, watching a video of his inhumane treatment of himself on a tablet computer, and finally prefers to lower his hat and keep his eyes on it. He shuts his eyes to the bitter reality and falls asleep, and the image fades away.

In one scene, Nasser forcibly asks his brother Khosrow, whose illness has worsened, to take his pills. After his brother leaves, Khosrow throws away the pills (like McMurphy in a scene from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest’).

One of the positive thematic features of the film in the field of psychology is Nasser's inhuman behavior as an educated and intellectual figure with regards to his brother Khosrow. In the face of Nasser's harsh and immoral attitude, we see that his son Shayan has a much better emotional relationship with his uncle. Perhaps in the fantasy world of Shayan, Khosrow's liberation from his boundaries and his unpredictable excitement are more attractive and acceptable.

In such comparative encounter highlighted by the biased behavior of Nahid, Nasser's wife (played by Hengameh Ghaziani), we find ourselves in a situation where Nasser seems to need more medical and psychological intervention than his brother does. Director Ehsan Biglari also seems not to mind that we feel this way.

In one scene of the film, Nasser is alone in his room watching a movie on TV in which a Gestapo officer is present. Isn't Nasser similar to this brutal torturer when considering how he is treating his own brother?

The film offers a bitter and ironic look by presenting a gray image of a growing middle-class family in an urban society in which unbalanced and tense relationships and deformed situations prevail. Fidgeting the final image inside the tunnel could emphasize this fact.

Music has effective use in the whole film and partly covers the personalities of characters and their mental and internal conditions. With this very first feature film, Ehsan Biglari shows that he has many concerns to reveal through cinema and that cinema is a serious business for him.