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Evil does not exist, but cinema resists Iran and Afghanistan, pain and hope

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Of the four episodes that make up “Evil does not exist”, released in Italian cinemas two years after the victory of the Golden Bear at the Berlinale 2020, the first is undoubtedly the one that will remain most impressed, if only for a unexpected ending and one of the most shocking. We are in Iran and we get to know Heshmat, 40, a family with children, a friendly, generous person who does everything he can to even save a cat to the neighbors. We see him immersed in an everyday life like many others, a reassuring normality, a job about which we know very little, however. An apparently very banal personal story, which suddenly tears apart the calm actions with a gesture that seems to be just as usual, customary, carried out almost with indifference. But not all gestures, even the most usual, lead to the same consequences. And here they explode fiercely. Mohammad Rasoulof is another of the Iranian directors opposed by the regime. Subjected to constant censorship, almost all of his films have never been released in cinemas in his country. Arrested like his other colleagues, sentenced and released prematurely only on bail, he was unable to be present in Berlin to receive the important prize, awarded to a film that addresses the thorny problem of the death penalty (or death in general that can be procure to other people) in one of the most cruel countries in the world in applying this barbaric law. In the second episode, where we enter more explicitly and directly on the subject, we find the conscript soldier Pouya, who dreams of obtaining a passport soon and expatriate with his girlfriend. But he is ordered to carry out a death sentence. The boy is therefore tormented in choosing between killing a person and obtaining the possibility of leaving the country or refusing, paying the consequences. Javad, also a soldier and protagonist of the third episode, goes on leave to his girlfriend’s country, with the intention of asking her in marriage. But when he arrives he finds the funeral ceremony of a man condemned to death, who turns out to be very close to him. And finally in the fourth of her, Bahram, a seriously ill mature man, awaits the arrival of his niece Darya, to reveal to her a secret that has been weighing for a lifetime. Rasoulof gives his best in the most severe and crucial stories, posing moral questions about doing or not doing, destabilizing appearances and reasons. The last two fragments are less convincing, which at times betray the need to poet equally devastating stories. But “The evil of living” remains in its entirety a convincing work, between painful landscapes, agitated souls and “Bella ciao”, which resounds here in Milva’s version, even if used in circumstances completely unrelated to his fame. Rating: 7.

FLEE – What could be worse for an Afghan boy, who fled his tormented land, abandoning everything to reach Europe, after several harrowing attempts, to become today an esteemed Danish academic? The story of Amin, already atrocious in itself, adds secrets and lies that have risked for a long time to make this hope vain. Mixing animation and archive images, Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s documentary “Flee” tells this painful story, finding the right distance from a painful life, redeemed by a comfortable today shared with one’s partner. Running for the Oscar. Rating: 6.5.

THE PROMISE – A French film directed by Thomas Kruithof, where Isabelle Huppert once again takes the stage, playing a mayor that many in Italy would probably gladly vote. We are close to Paris and Clémence is finishing her mandate and she seems to want to pull the sprint to her deputy. You have been fighting for some time against the degradation of a society that feeds poverty, unemployment and exploitation. With the air of a thriller, Kruithof with “The Promise” is above all diligent in describing the perverse cogs of politics, the sudden moves to destabilize them and the desire not to betray one’s constituents. All very nice (in the cinema, less in reality), even if the film is more routine than compelling. Rating: 6.

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