Film Review: ‘Hush! [Iran] Girls Don’t Scream’

David Chew – Variety – Friday, 29 November 2013 (originally published 26 Nov)

Ttannaz Tabatabayi and Merila Zarei - Variety
Image: Variety

It’s sadly not surprising that an angry film about pedophilia, and a closed society’s horrifically inept efforts to confront it, still needed to be made in Iran. Nor should we be complacent about conditions closer to home, though you’d have to dig deep to find a case as extreme as the one depicted in “Hush! Girls Don’t Scream,” in which the victim is not merely blamed for the crime, but prosecuted to boot. Winner of the audience award at this year’s Fajr Film Festival, as well as top prize at the recent London Iranian Film Festival, the pic opened Friday on a single L.A.-area screen.

“Hush!” begins like a noir crime thriller, perhaps a Cornell Woolrich-style tale of revenge, a la “The Bride Wore Black.” The stunned-looking bride in this case bride, Shirin Naeimi (Tannaz Tabatabayi), appears before her husband dressed in blinding white — except for the garish splatter of fresh blood across her chest. The film clears up the question of motivation almost immediately, when Shirin confesses to killing a man who abused her repeatedly as a child and had been lurking around the fringes of her life ever since.

Writer-director Pouran Derakhshandeh (“Endless Dreams,” “A Candle in the Wind”) has made a film as tight as clenched fist. Shot almost entirely in grays, blacks and browns, it focuses sternly on building its case against the social constraints and inequities in the Iranian legal system that make justice in a case like this almost impossible to attain. The film is so closely argued it could be presented in a court of law, carefully documenting occasions throughout Shirin’s childhood when parents and school officials failed to hear what the clearly distraught little girl was trying to tell them. (She is given medication rather than attention or protection. And you thought this was common practice only in America) . . .

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