Half Moon (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner02/01/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 109 mins

This Iranian comedy-drama contains likeable characters, striking visuals and some extremely funny scenes, but it's also a little too long and many of the cultural references will be lost on UK audiences.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Kurdish Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi, Half Moon stars Ismail Ghaffari as Mamo, an old Kurdish musician who's regarded as a celebrity in Iran. When he's given permission to travel to Iraqi Kurdistan to perform a concert, he recruits his old friend Kako (Allah-Morad Rashtiani) as a bus driver and the two of them pick up his ten musical sons, before attempting to cross the various borders.

However, Mamo decides that the concert requires the celestial voice of a woman, so he diverts the bus to a remote mountain village to pick up Hesho (Hedye Tehrani), a renowned singer. There's just one problem: since the Iranian revolution, women are banned from singing in public in front of men, so Hesho has to be carefully concealed on board the bus.

The Good
The two central characters are extremely likeable and it's hard not to sympathise with hen-pecked Kako's disastrous attempts to keep things running smoothly. In addition, Ghaffari and Rashtiani both give superb performances and there's strong support from both Tehrani and Golshifteh Farahani, as an enigmatic character who appears towards the end of the film.

Ghobadi has a strong visual sense and there are several stunning sequences, most notably the opening cockfighting scene and a colourfully surreal sequence involving a mountain retreat full of 1,334 exiled female singers. He also makes impressive use of the frequently harsh landscapes.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the film is a little too long and its pacing is painfully slow in places. Similarly, the heavily symbolic imagery is occasionally confusing and much of it will be lost on Western audiences.

Worth seeing?
Half Moon is impressively acted, frequently hilarious and ultimately moving - it would also make an intriguing double bill with recent arthouse hit The Band's Visit. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 22/09/2018 19:22

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