Tehran: City of Love at UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema


When I am not touched by a film, I prefer to avoid writing about it and share a critic’s review with our visitors.

Tehran, City Of Love, with no doubt is a well made film by a talented film director, it follows the life of three depressed characters all through the film with dark humor. One of the characters is a middle-aged man who is a body building instructor and fails in romantically attracting a young man that is his student. The other character is a depressed man that sings in memorial ceremonies and finds the opportunity of becoming a wedding singer. The third character of the film is an overweight secretary that is desperate for finding the man of her life and make crank calls to men pretending she is a beautiful girl…..

Problem is except for the religious singer, the rest of the story could have happened anywhere in the world and we don’t see any relevance for picking Tehran by the director and you don’t get any feel of that city through Tehran, City Of Love.

Tehran: City of Love will be screened on April 27, 2019 – 7:30 pm at  Billy Wilder Theater as part of UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema.

Here is a review by Selina Begum for The Upcoming, a UK site:

“A beautifully paced tragicomedy by writer-director Ali Jaberansari filmed around the unrequited love experienced by three lonely individuals living in the Iranian capital, Tehran: City of Love presents the charms and challenges of this bustling metropolis.

The first of the stories revolves around champion bodybuilder Hessam Fazli (Amir Hessam Bakhtiari), who is attempting to be cast in an upcoming film and is (wrongly) informed that it stars France’s most famous actor, Louis Garrel. Hessam normally works with older men, but comes across young Arshia (Amir Reza Alizadeh), who is training to be a bodybuilder too. Scenes between the pair verge on homoeroticism, as the former gazes longingly at the young man, a Persian Death in Venice if you will.

Mina Shamsi (Forough Ghajabegli) is an overweight receptionist at a beauty clinic, where we see an array of patients, and it’s no coincidence that this is where we find her as Iran is widely regarded as the nose-job capital of the world, with many of its citizens focused on their physical appearance. Mina spends her time eating ice cream and enticing men she finds attractive by phoning them with a disguised, overtly sexy voice, yet as each man arrives for the date, Mina stands them up in a form of revenge. Attempting to find a compatible suitor, she joins a class titled “Geometry of Love and Relationships”.

A singer at religious funerals in a mosque, the melancholic Vahid (Mehdi Saki) has recently been estranged from his fiancée, and endeavours to conceal his broken relationship from keen parents. The musician is encouraged by a friend to sing at weddings – these particular celebrations are organized in secrecy away from the hostile modesty police – where he soon befriends a female professional photographer by the name of Niloufar. As we see him take to more celebratory singing, Vahid’s earlier morose frown gradually transforms into happier features.

The three protagonists calmly endure their misfortunes, and as an audience you root for their contentment. The bittersweet elements that come with the feature’s inherent offbeat deadpan humor can be credited to the actors’ excellent comic timing and the script by Jaberansari and Maryam Najafi, which echoes the work of Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos. Exquisitely crisp cinematography is delivered by director of photography Mohammad Reza Jahanpanah, giving the movie its sharp definition and vivid scenes comprising contrasting colors against sunnier hues.

As the characters’ individual accounts are given room to breathe – aided by great editing from Askhan Mehri – the feature feels alive and relevant to modern life in an urban metropolis.”


About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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