For Reel

Finals (2016)
October 26, 2016, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Adel Yaraghi
4 Stars
finalsThe premise of director Adel Yaraghi’s latest film was conceived of by the late Abbas Kiarostami, who took Yaraghi under his wing in his last years and assisted him in writing the screenplay. Much of the visual strategy found in Finals is reminiscent of Kiarostami’s work (especially his recent films)—including lengthy conversations in cars and on motorcycles—however the film is more in line with many of the European realist dramas of recent years. The plot, which involves a well-meaning man encouraging a student to cheat in order to pass their exams, is hugely similar to Cristian Mungiu’s Graduation, with which the film shares many similarities. Although Finals is certainly not apolitical, however, it is a more focused generational drama in which two teens become so disillusioned that they all but intend to throw their future away. That the boys’ math teacher (Shahab Hosseini) is the boyfriend of one of their mom’s (Leila Zare) complicates matters—the kid’s resistance to the exams is an extension of his refusal to allow a new man into his life, fighting vindictively to yield the masculine authority in the house himself. Finals unfolds with a great patience and Hosseini’s sympathetic performance isn’t too virtuous to ignore the man’s essential frustrations. The final act—in which the boys plot an ambiguous but certainly violent action against their teacher—unfolds with excruciating suspense thanks to Yaraghi’s careful development of the space in which the action takes place.

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