Despite failing to spark, this well-meaning but fatally under-plotted British-Iranian indie drama deserves some attention for showing what a tough city London can be for invisible immigrants.
Helmed by artist-turned-director Mitra Tabrizian and mostly in Farsi, it’s about a mysterious Iranian guy in his thirties, Gholam (Shahab Hosseini), who works two jobs – mechanic by day, taxi driver by night. Gholam’s hollowed-out eyes and monosyllabic conversation hint at some past trauma or tragedy, and when two shady men show up asking questions and praising his heroic past in the Iranian military, the pieces begin to slot into place – except, frustratingly, they don’t.
This all could have been interesting. There are some sharply observed details. Tabrizian shows how dehumanising it can be working in the service industry – some of Gholam’s taxi passengers look right through him. But while the film’s ideas about the loneliness of not belonging and urban alienation are intriguing, there’s precisely zero emotional investment in Gholam. It’s a real shame, because we could do with more stories about the experiences of lives on the margins.