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A Time for Drunken Horses (Zamani barayé masti asbha) (2000)

  Directed by: Bahman Ghobadi
Written by: Bahman Ghobadi
Starring: Ayoub Ahmadi, Amaneh Ekhtiar-dini, Madi Ekhtiar-dini, Rojin Younessi
Links: A Time for Drunken Horses on the IMDb, Buy on Video
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 7.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Is truth stranger than fiction?" - a review by pearly

It is testament to this film that after having watched for about half an hour, I could still not decide whether the film was a documentary or a dramatic fiction. It is, as it turns out, a fictional tale, starring some young actors who do a fantastic job with their roles, and have you believing their story wholeheartedly, at least for the first half of the film.

A Time for Drunken Horses is like Atanarjuat (2001), but in the desert instead of the snow. It tells, simply and honestly, the story of a family of Kurdish Iranians who are struggling with the life that has been given to them. The children must travel dangerously across the border to do small chores which earn them money, and when they learn that their father has been killed at his job illegally transporting goods across the border by horse, the eldest child, Ayoub (Ayoub Ahmadi), must take his father's place. This is especially difficult as one of the brothers, Madi (Madi Ekhtiar-dini), has a handicap which means that he cannot walk, and will most probably not live beyond another month.

Living in such poverty that the family cannot afford the appropriate treatment for Madi, the children do what they can to keep their family together. The film offers a unique perspective of their situation, and has the viewer struggling to imagine the kind of life being lived upon the screen. The title of the film refers to the fact that even the horses are made to drink liquor just to get through the hard working day.

What I enjoyed about this film was the settings and cinematography - the way that it was shot to appear natural and realistic really worked well. I also appreciated these child actors' skill, especially the boy playing Ayoub. At only 80 minutes in length, the film sticks to its point and shows us just the main essence of what it is trying to say. My only real criticism would be with the ending, which I felt left me as a viewer hanging a little too much. It is kind of appropriate for the film, but I still wanted to have a bit more closure. And whilst it is like Atanarjuat but in a different setting, it is not quite as up there as another film along similar lines (which came later, and actually is a documentary), The Story of the Weeping Camel (2003). Close, but not quite as powerful.

pearly gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 10 Jun 2005

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