No Date, No Signature, the new movie from director Vahid Jalilvand, is an engrossing family drama that feels quite similar to Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation, which won the Oscar and may prove prophetic come awards time this year. Both Iranian films detail gripping tales involving families that become undone by bad luck and human frailty.
In Jalilvand’s film, the car of Dr. Nariman (Amir Aghaee) hits a family riding on a motorbike. The accident causes the mother and father on the bike (David Mohammadzadeh and Hediyeh Tehrani) to begin an argument and check the health of their two children, who were also on board. The doctor also examines the family to ensure everyone is OK.
After realizing that the couple’s son suffered a head injury, Nariman implores the boy’s father to head for the hospital. They don’t exchange insurance information, and the doctor feels confident that the boy will be all right after being examined.
However, all is not well with the boy, and Dr. Nariman finds himself on the hot seat and feeling guilty for not calling an ambulance at the scene of the accident. He finds solace in the help of a colleague, played by Zakieh Behbahani, but because he doesn’t want to implicate himself, he keeps the details to himself.
Jalilvand has these events play out in realistic fashion, with real human emotions on full display. At the heart of this tragic story is a young boy who needed an adult to take proper care of him. When the wrong decisions are made, the boy is made to pay the price.
Among the cast members, Mohammadzadeh shines bright. His performance is so powerful and gut-wrenching as the grieving father that it’s difficult not to feel sorrow for his predicament. He’s hot-headed and stubborn, and he demands answers from several people. He doesn’t seem to comprehend the finality of what has happened to his family, and this drives him into an impassioned quest for justice.
Aghaee is also quite solid as the doctor. Watch his face as the narrative unfolds because it is that changing face that mirrors the turn of events. Every minute that passes provides him with more reason to doubt his decisions and question his ethics.
Therani and Behbahani provide stellar supporting work, carving out characters with real compassion, concern and caring.
Jalilvand’s movie is not without its faults. The plot’s progression doesn’t always work, and there are a few revelations that are real head scratchers. However, for the most part, No Date, No Signature is an intense portrait of a family coming undone by circumstance and folly.
By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
No Date, No Signature (2018), directed by Vahid Jalilvand and written by Jalilvand and Ali Zarnegar, stars Amir Aghaee, Hediyeh Tehrani, Navid Mohammadzadeh and Zakieh Behbahani. Running time: 104 minutes. In Farsi with English subtitles. Rating: