Santouri: The Music Man

Veteran Iranian filmmaker Dariush Mehrjui, a central figure in that country's film new wave, cowrote and directed this raw, agonizing study of a talented musician's descent into heroin addiction and personal ruin, including the abandonment of his wife. It's a credit to Mehrjui's estimable talent that he renders a potentially hackneyed subject in a fresh manner, especially in his depiction of the musician's downfall, hastened by the government's ability to censure and marginalize him as an artist. Bahram Radan, one of Iran's most popular actors, gives a riveting performance as the title character, a haunting singer and a virtuoso on the santur, a zitherlike Persian stringed instrument played with mallets. With Golshifteh Farahani; Ardavan Kamkar scored the music. 106 min.

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