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All Critics (24)
| Top Critics (9)
| Fresh (21)
| Rotten (3)
Even though The President lacks some of the subtlety that made Makhmalbaf's previous work transcendent, this film is still a worthy testament to a fiery storyteller determined to use the medium as a necessary means of subversion.
Although Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf says "The President" was inspired by the turbulent events of the Arab Spring, there's also a timeless quality to this absorbing and powerful fable that provides added resonance.
Makhmalbaf makes you feel the enormity of the President's loss of self even if you don't actually feel for him.
Though the film's conclusion is viscerally harrowing (and very well staged, like most of the movie), its attempt to say something about how cycles of violence need to be ended in order for democracy to succeed tyranny seems vague and pat.
The actual moral of the story is more trite and utopian, but still powerful: Democracy can't take root until the impulse for vengeance is gone.
Many scenes seem designed to illustrate platitudes, at the expense of the narrative.
If you want to know how Saddam Hussein went from a golden palace to a dirty hole, how Colonel Gaddafi might have looked at his death, give it a go.
Its story of a despot (Mikheil Gomiashvili)...who escapes his country's...capital city...with his cosseted grandson (Dachi Orvelashvili) in tow...looks at brotherhood by satirizing the highhanded excesses of nationhood.
In the best moments of Kandahar, Makhmalbaf conveyed every twist of irony in these savage juxtapositions. In The President, the weight of his preaching tends to flatten out the ironies and the epiphanies.
A darkly comic and poignant portrait of an Ozymandian fall from grace and the subsequent damage that ensues.
Tonally, The President tacks from black comedy into raw outrage, treacherous ground trod so deftly you feel like applauding. This is a gripping and lucid film.
Makhmalbaf's script, co-written with his wife Marziyeh Meshkiny, doesn't finally compensate for loss of narrative direction. It's an impressive effort though.
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