The new Iranian movie No Date, No Signature is filled with drama and tension – making it one of the most compelling films I have seen for a long time.
Directed by Iranian filmmaker Vahid Jalilvand, No Date, No Signature explores the repercussions of a night time road accident involving forensic doctor Kaveh Nariman (powerfully played by Amir Agha’ee) and a young family-of-four on a motorcycle.
When Nariman’s car is sideswiped by another vehicle – it collides with the motorcycle – sending the family flying onto the roadside.
Although Nariman attempts to help the injured family, the father insists his wife and two young children are ok and shuns his advances.
The plot thickens when Nariman does manage to examine the injured eight-year old son Amir Ali, who has a sore neck and concussion as well as other cuts and bruising.
Unfortunately, despite Nariman’s insistence that he take them to the nearby clinic for medical attention, the father Moosa (Navid Mohammadzadeh), packs everyone onto the broken motorcycle and drives off.
The story might have ended there except for a tragic twist.
Two days later, eight-year-old Ali turns up at the morgue where Nariman works – setting off a chain of events that rapidly escalates into murder and mayhem.
Moosa and his wife Leila (Zakiyeh Behbahani) are torn apart by the loss of their son, and when the results of the post mortem show he died of food poisoning from unsafe chicken meat, Moosa is enraged.
He seeks out the man who sold him the contaminated meat – beating him up and putting him in a coma in hospital.
At the same time Nariman is going through his own crisis of conscience as he convinces himself the boy had suffered an undiagnosed neck injury in the accident: and that this had killed him, rather than the food poisoning.
To try and put his mind at rest, Nariman decides to do his own autopsy, as he believes the first one – conducted by his friend and colleague, Sayeh Behbahani (Hediyeh Tehrani) – did not pick up the severity of the neck problem.
The film garnered Best Film and Best Actor (Amir Aghaee) at the Venice Film Festival.
It is a stunning example of the massive void in contemporary Iran between rich and poor, and the discrepancies in the justice system, which is still rooted in the past.
No Date, No Signature is showing at Luna Leederville from July 19, 2018.
By Mike Peeters