A police officer finds himself haunted by a traumatic childhood memory as he searches for a missing man in the rugged mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, in this striking feature debut by Batin Ghobadi.
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★★★★★ review by MARTIN BRADLEY on Letterboxd
Batin Ghobadi's "Mardan" is a terrifically good film from Iraq that shows movies allocated to the art-house circuit, both in this country and in the West in general, can take on Hollywood at its own game and really deliver the goods. Here is a movie that is highly intelligent, and sufficiently elliptical, for us to bring our brains into the cinema once again while at the same time delivering something edgy, dark and yes, exciting.
Of course, we are in an environment that is alien to most of us and it's a magnificent environment, beautifully photographed by Saba Mazloum. Mardan himself is a corrupt policeman dealing with demons from his childhood and attempting to redeem himself by helping a young woman find the man Mardan presumes is her missing husband. It's the kind of film I can see a good American director like David Fincher remaking or the kind of film the American cinema might have turned out in the seventies.
While the central plot is (relatively) easy for us to follow it's the accumulation of little incidental details that we need to pay attention to. Here is a film that keeps us on the edge of our seats but not in any conventional way. I really do think it is a masterpiece and certainly the best 'new' film I have seen this year. (It hails from 2014).
★★★★ review by J'aime Impiegato on Letterboxd
Moody and brooding psychological drama. Mardan, a tortured soul, is as unreadable as it gets. Will be looking out for more of the directors catalogue.
★★★½ review by Nick Potter on Letterboxd
Certainly noteworthy as a debut, that's the bare minimum. This was a really nice and dark story that mostly comes together, but I'd love to see what it leads to.
★★★½ review by Kevin Matthews on Letterboxd
Set in the mountains of Kurdistan, this film mixes an intriguing character study with a police investigation of the whereabouts of a missing man.
The acting is solid, the ambiguity throughout keeps things interesting, and the overall result is somehow satisfying, despite certain storytelling choices made.
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