Under the Skin of the City

A matriarch struggles to hold together her working-class family in this 2000 Iranian drama by director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad (The May Lady, The Blue-Veiled). The story comes close to schematic melodrama, with each family member afflicted by a particular problem of the urban poor (the father is ineffectual, the daughter is beaten by her husband, one of the sons gets involved in drug trafficking), yet Bani-Etemad's depiction of poverty and despair, approximating the tone and look of Italian neorealism, is stark and wrenching. 92 min. In Farsi with subtitles.

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