Set in a town near the Iranian border, Frontier Blues takes a look at the life of four people living in a place where not much happens. A young man has been left by his mother to live with an uncle who doesn't really like him. A Turkmen living with his father dreams of marrying a beautiful Persian girl and moving away while a minstrel and his family have found themselves an inspiration to an aspiring photographer.
The pathos of a declining macho culture is captured in all its taciturn insignificance in Babak Jalali’s offbeat debut. However, in dwelling on the soul-crushing repetitiveness of life on the Turkmen-Iranian border, Jalali generates his own ennui, as he fails to provide much insight into the principals or their morose steppe existence. The focus is divided between slow-witted donkey owner Abolfazl Karimi, his outfitter uncle Behzad Shahrivari, restless chicken farmer Mahmoud Kalteh and testy minstrel Khajeh Araz Dordi. But, while Dordi’s encounter with a patronising Tehran photographer raises a few smiles and Kalteh’s dream of marrying a local girl is achingly melancholic, too little happens at too slow a pace to engross.
First time director Babak Jalali's debut is hopeful but soon falls short by lacking debt and narrative movement.
Reviewed by David Parkinson