"Tehran Taboo" is an absorbing snapshot of contemporary Iran involving a crisscross of beleaguered folks living in the largely cosmopolitan capital city. That the film is animated, yet feels so thoroughly real, is a testament to its vivid use of rotoscoping as well as a solid script by director Ali Soozandeh, an Iranian expatriate.
Through its representative cast of characters and situations, the movie lays bare the hypocrisy at work in a country in which overt authoritarianism, religious constraints and the subjugation of women seems to co-exist with the more covert "taboos" of sex, drugs, legal and economic corruption and much else. It all makes for bold and stirring commentary.
The intersecting story strands include: a single mother (Elmira Rafizadeh) working as a prostitute who's forced to become the concubine to a married judge (Hasan Ali Mete); a poor musician (Arash Marandi) who must pay for surgery to "restore the virginity" of a young woman (Negar Mona Alizadeh) he deflowered during a drug-fueled sexual encounter; and a husband (Alireza Bayram) and wife (Zar Amir Ebrahimi), about to have their first child, struggling with, respectively, infidelity and independence.
These tales are brimming with urgency and conflict and serve as powerful reminders of the liberties and autonomy those of us living in the free world too often take for granted.
In Farsi with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes
Playing: Ahrya Fine Arts, Beverly Hills; Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino