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The Circle Review

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Portrait of Iran's institutional racism through the lives of seven women involved with major issues such as abortion, divorce and prostitution.

★★★★

Personalising a highly politicised subject, this La Ronde of oppression is rooted in the Iranian tradition of severe realism. Opening with a black screen and the sounds of a woman in labour, Panahi follows the fortunes of seven others deemed second-class citizens, solely on account of their sex. He juxtaposes major issues like abortion, divorce and prostitution with such minor acts of patriarchal tryanny as a lone female's inability to ride in a car with a non-relation.

It's potent stuff. Yet, thanks to the dexterity of Bahram Badakshani's hand-held camera and the naturalism of the non-professional cast, it's also arresting and deeply involving. This isn't the first film to expose Iran's institutionalised chauvinism. But it's certainly the most cinematic.

It's potent stuff. Yet, thanks to the dexterity of Bahram Badakshani's hand-held camera and the naturalism of the non-professional cast, it's also arresting and deeply involving.