The Lady | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Released in 1998 after a seven-year ban by the Iranian government, this feature by Dariush Mehrjui explores the psyche of a distressed upper-class woman but also serves as a political parable about Iran's uneasy class relations. Banoo, abandoned by her philandering husband, invites a homeless gardener and his wife to live in her Tehran mansion, but eventually they begin to take advantage of her kindness, asking their relatives to join them. The rich woman is less a saint than a bundle of neuroses, swinging from compassion to self-pity to a willful sense of noblesse oblige, and the peasants seem to resent her capriciousness as much as the obvious disparity between the baronial house and its poverty-stricken neighborhood. In the title role, Bita Farrahi limns a wonderful, realistic portrait of a woman whose dignity barely masks her vulnerability, and Mehrjui regular Ezzatollah Entezami is almost comical as the gardener's thieving, weaselly father-in-law. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday, October 9, 6:00, and Sunday, October 10, 3:45, 312-443-3737. --Ted Shen

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