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Review: Powerful Iranian drama ‘No Date, No Signature’ weighs the burden of guilt

Review: Powerful Iranian drama ‘No Date, No Signature’ weighs the burden of guilt
Navid Mohammadzadeh in the movie "No Date, No Signature." (Distrib Films U.S.)

The shared burden of guilt is incisively examined in “No Date, No Signature,” a compelling drama by Iranian filmmaker Vahid Jalilvand.

When a traffic mishap results in his car clipping a motorcycle, forensic pathologist Dr. Nariman (expertly played by Amir Agha’ee), dutifully attends to its passengers, including the 8-year-old son of the driver, Moosa (Navid Mohammadzadeh), who sustained a bump on the back of his head.

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Refusing the doctor’s offer to take the boy to a nearby clinic, the family turns up at Nariman’s hospital a few days later, where an autopsy reveals that their young son died from botulism contracted from a diseased chicken Moosa brought home from the poultry processing plant where he works.

But Nariman, who, inexplicably, chooses not to tell his dedicated colleague, Dr. Behbahani (Hediyeh Tehrani) about his prior encounter with Moosa’s family, isn’t completely convinced of her findings and becomes obsessed with determining the primary cause of the young boy’s death.

Jalilvand, who received the Horizons best director honors at last year’s Venice film festival (where Mohammadzadeh also won the Horizons best actor nod for his powerful, grief-stricken performance), masterfully delineates the class distinctions and guilt carried by the two men tormented by the decisions they’ve made.

Beautifully performed and penetratingly photographed, Jalilvand’s assured second feature bears the probing precision of one of those meticulous autopsies.

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‘No Date, No Signature’

In Farsi with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Playing: Starts Aug. 10, Laemmle Royal, Los Angeles; Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino

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