Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hush! Girls Don't Scream

Sometimes, and not infrequently in 2013, it happens that we see a movie that practically no one else in the world sees. The moving documentary, The Missing Picture, for example, which has an entry at Box Office Mojo showing no box office receipts. Or like Arena of the Street Fighter or Big Ass Spider, which don't show up at Mojo at all.

Or, say, this Persian film, Hiss Dokhtarha Faryad Nemizanand kindly translated as Hush! Girls Don't Scream.

We wanted to see the last Persian film that came to our local, but the distributor had not bothered to fron the $100—that's five Andrew Jacksons—it took to get it subtitled. (This is what the people at the theater told me, as well as they had turned away more than $100 in business for it. They also said non-Perisan people saw it anyway and enjoyed it.)

I was struck by the wordiness of the title, which reminded me of cheesy '70s movies, and maybe even especially late '70s/early '80s made-for-TV movies about the terrible things people do to their children behind closed doors.

The funny thing is, that's what this is: A story of a woman who murders a random man on her wedding day, and turns out to have done so due to a dark history. Enhancing the feeling is low-budget lighting and sets, as well as a '70s color palette (though there is some surprisingly effective camera work at times).

Not helping matters is spotty subtitles, rumored to cost around $100.

And yet. The film rises above its own limitations. Partly this is due to strong performances, partly due to the earnest handling of the subject matter, and partly due to certain oddities of Iranian culture.

For example, it's probably no surprise to anyone that when a woman is raped in Iran, it's considered her fault and she may be punished (even killed for it). It's probably not much less surprising that a child who is molested brings dishonor to his or her family, so much so that the family would cover it up rather than report it.

Somewhat more interesting is that "blood money" (last seen in The Separation) means that a person convicted of a crime can be granted a reprieve if a member of the victims family allows.

Hush! moves from mystery to personal drama to courtroom drama to an action-suspense film by the end, and there's an authenticity to the proceedings which makes it increasingly compelling. The Boy barely noted the lower production values, but we both came out liking it a lot.

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