Cafe Setareh

Poignant and structurally complex, this 2006 drama by Saman Moghadam plays out like a triptych, with three stories combining to create a panorama of working-class Tehran. At its center is a cafe proprietor (Afsaneh Baygan) abused by her drug addict husband; after her brother goes to her rescue, the ensuing tragedy impacts the lives of two other neighborhood women, a wistful young beauty (Hanieh Tavassoli) and her middle-aged landlady (Roya Teimourian of The Willow Tree, in a finely textured performance). Like some of Yasujiro Ozu's postwar films, this is characterized by its fatalism, deliberate pacing, evocative shots of empty interiors, and subtle gestures that illuminate traditional social mores and gender inequities. In Farsi with subtitles. 102 min.

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