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Review: ‘Septembers of Shiraz’ a simplistic drama set during revolution in 1979 Iran

Salma Hayek Pinault, Adrien Brody and Ariana Molkara in the movie "Septembers of Shiraz."
(Momentum Pictures)

It’s 1979 in Tehran as “Septembers of Shiraz” opens to the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” and a “Boogie Nights”-esque tracking shot into the home of a wealthy Jewish family throwing a party. It’s an ironic song title, though, for jeweler Isaac Amin (Adrien Brody), his ex-journalist wife (Salma Hayek Pinault) and their two children, one of whom is off to college in America. Bloodthirsty religious revolutionaries in purge mode sweep up Isaac as an example of secular, privileged decadence, leaving his wife to wonder if Isaac or any of them will survive the ayatollah’s freshly empowered reign of anti-Western tyranny.

The trouble is, director Wayne Blair’s perfunctorily handled adaptation of Dalia Sofer’s 2008 novel is long on cardboard characterizations and short on genuine tension. Hanna Weg’s screenplay might as well label its grubby, torturing, thieving fanatics “takers” and the wronged, terrified Amins “makers” for all the nuance it offers about a fraught, scary time in Iran’s recent history.

Brody and Hayek Pinault gamely toggle between looking worried and knowing they’re right. But only Shohreh Aghdashloo, as the Amins’ glum, wary servant – loyal to her employers but not without instinctive sympathy for the inequality fueling some revolutionaries – suggests a possibly richer movie than the ho-hum “Argo” wannabe on display.

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‘Septembers of Shiraz’

Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13 for thematic content involving interrogation, brutality and disturbing images, and for some partial nudity and brief strong language

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; Laemmle Town Center, Encino

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