Secret Ballot Review

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An odd couple (female election agent and uncooperative soldier) are forced to spend the day together when they travel around an Iranian province with a mobile ballot box, trying to pursuade the populice to vote.


Inspired by Mohsen Makhmalbaf's short, Testing Democracy, this is a textbook example of how to wring every possible smile out of a one-joke scenario.

The story of an Iranian election official's bid to coax the locals into voting manages to explore everything from the status of women to the irrelevance of democracy in a region in which poverty, ignorance and entrenched tradition are rife. Escorted by a soldier (Cyrus Abidi), who resents taking orders from a woman, the ceaselessly idealistic Nassim Abdi is confronted by contradiction.

Some women want to vote, others are too scared to act without their husbands' permission; many more can't see the point of politics. The barbs might have been sharper, but this is still a highly intelligent and hugely enjoyable satire.

This satire touches on complex issues with charm and humour. Hugely satisfying.