From sapphire to backfire; Wayne Blair’s latest effort makes Shiraz taste like curdled cream.
Septembers of Shiraz is one those movies that has good intentions, but can’t find the right gear to power its dreams. It is a bland, by-the-numbers tragedy of a Jewish family during the genesis of the Iranian Revolution in Tehran, and offers up some of the most shocking over-acting and linguistic failures in recent memory. Surely the filmmakers must’ve known they had fallen into deep water when they had to coax an Iranian accent out of Salma Hayek.
Hayek plays Farnez, the wife of Isaac (Adrien Brody), a wealthy jeweller who is kidnapped by the new Khomeini regime and forced into a life of solitude and torture. His mansion is ransacked, his wife engages a frantic search for him, and his captors speak sparkling English.
This is a movie that means well, but would’ve no doubt been more successful had its director, Wayne Blair, understood what he was trying to say. There is a gaping hole between the idea and the execution. Blair previously made The Sapphires (2012), an Australian musical rich in enthusiasm and vigour. Why was it a success? Because Blair is Australian and understands what that means. With Septembers of Shiraz, he is a fish out of water, and ends up mechanising what should have been a drama enriched by a deep, profound affection for humanity.
There is indeed very little to commend about this movie. Brody and Hayek duke it out for Over-Acting Champ. Their accents are otherworldly. The dialogue is hammered in by necessity and not by feeling. The entire production has about as much warmth as a freezing chamber. Here’s my advice: if you want to make an homage to civil freedom in Iran, it might do you some good to first cut out the Mexican actor.
Septembers of Shiraz is available in Australian cinemas from July 7
Image courtesy of Roadshow Films