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Fireworks Wednesday (Chaharshanbe-soori) Reviews

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JonathanHutchings
JonathanHutchings

Super Reviewer

February 17, 2012
After being blown away by A Separation, I decided to delve into director Asghar Farhadi's oeurve. Fireworks Wednesday, centers around familiar terrain: a broken marriage, as see through the eyes of a young housekeeper, and by extension, the audience. Farhadi's directorial style is subtly powerful: he takes his time, and allows the information to creep in at its own pace, instead of feeling a more Westernized need to shoehorn it all into the first 10 minutes. He also seamlessly shifts our point of view over and over again, confronting the audience to think twice about any preconceived notions we might have about his characters -- our assumptions, and their reliability. He's not afraid to allow a scene to develop, and he fearlessly trusts his actors. He'll direct in a more "invisible" style, but he astutely knows when to mix it up and reposition the camera, or change vantage points to inform the audience about a character's motivations. In this film, the martial strife hits a fever pitch and culminates in a show stopping long shot down an elevator, and into the street that has to be seen to be believed. I honestly don't think it could have been shot any better, and the mis-en-scene is pitch perfect.

A theme that occupies Farhadi appears to be the corrosive underbelly of Persian culture, and its stifling traditional values. This story takes place on Chaharshanbe Suri (the Persian New Year) and all throughout the film, you hear fireworks in the distance. Near the end of the film, there's this great sequence where two characters are driving in the car, and through the windows you see a succession of fireworks, and fire in the streets. After dwelling on these details for a minute or two, the metaphorical meaning seeps in -- these relationships are just as combustible. It's a subtle detail, but very powerful -- and, for me, that's a great way to describe Farhadi's style: subtle, but powerful.
mark d.
June 2, 2014
Admirers of A Separation by the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi will be looking forward to his new movie The Past, to be released here in late March. They will also relish the ongoing discovery of his back catalogue: About Elly from 2009 was intriguing, and now his 2006 film Fireworks Wednesday, co-written with Mani Haghighi, has been released here on DVD. This is a thoroughly engrossing and densely textured drama, showing Farhadi's cool skill in dissecting the Iranian middle classes and the unhappiness of marriage.

Fireworks Wednesday (Chahar Shanbeh Souri)
Production year: 2006
Country: Rest of the world
Runtime: 104 mins
Directors: Asghar Farhadi
Cast: Hamid Farokh-Nejad, Hamid Farokhnezhad, Hedieh Tehrani, Hediyeh Tehrani, Taraneh Alidoosti, Taraneh Alidousti
More on this film

It is set in Teheran, during the traditional boisterous New Year celebrations, involving fireworks in the street; Jafar Panahi's This Is Not a Film was set around this time as well. There are, of course, some emotional explosions. Taraneh Alidoosti (who played the fleeting title role in About Elly) is Roohi, a young woman who is thrilled to be engaged, and keen to save up as much as she can for the wedding. She gets a one-off job from a contract agency to clean a flat, and is highly disconcerted to find it a wreck, covered in dust sheets from an apparently abandoned plan to repaint and littered with broken glass from an unexplained violent row.

Roohi finds herself in the middle of the warring marital partners who live there: Mozhde (Hediyeh Tehrani) and Morteza (Hamid Farokhnezhad). Mozhde is obsessed with the idea that Morteza is cheating on her with the next-door neighbour, beauty-salon owner Simin (Pantea Bahram): she listens at the ventilation duct in her bathroom and at the wall behind the closet, and it is enigmatically unclear if she has actually heard anything incriminating or not. Poor Roohi finds herself inveigled into undercover ruses to spy on Morteza, and also finds herself telling fibs to help him out. Instantly, instinctively, she has entered the world of little secrets and lies that comes with the territory of marriage, and her open, beautiful face becomes clouded with fear and unease as she guesses what might be in store for her in the married future. As with his other films, Farhadi shows an icily cool control in his camerawork, comparable to a Haneke, especially in the gripping street-brawl scene, blankly filmed from an ascending lift. A formidable and technically accomplished drama from Farhadi.
January 9, 2014
The more films I see by Asghar Farhadi the more I appreciate him. He just has a keen eye for the little moments and small details that make up life. Definitely one of his more focused films and an obvious precursor to his most recent films. Can't wait to see his other movies!
December 18, 2012
Another gem of a portrayal of Iran's urban middle & lower classes from the genius behind cinematic masterpieces like A Separation & About Elly, Fireworks Wednesday is written & directed as effectively as Asghar Farhadi's other films. A very gripping plot, immersive screenplay, wonderful performances from its cast, superb editing, & the way Farhadi has weaved the whole film in layers, always challenging ours as well as its characters' assumptions, thus making the whole movie an emotionally captivating experience, deserves kudos. Covering themes of lies, deception, marriage & infidelity from the eyes of an engaged young woman only makes it all the more faith shattering. A spellbinding movie, just like his other masterpieces. Highly recommended.
August 26, 2012
By constantly ensuring that our allegiance never remains faithful to one character, Farhadi charts a terrific film on the chaos that seeps in post marital life and the duplicity that follows, shaking the enthusiastic faith of a young woman about to tie the knot.
July 8, 2012
Another engaging tale from Farhadi. This is supposedly the first of the trilogy leading to 'About Elly' and then 'A Separation' eventually. Surprised that none of the critics have rated it yet, pity that so many good movies get lost.
January 17, 2012
One of my favorite Iranian films ever, from the acclaimed writer and director of A SEPARATION.
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