Permission (4 stars)

Permission

Iranian director Soheil Beiraghi's thought-provoking drama follows a frustrated female footballer

The inequalities of Iranian society have proved a fertile source of impassioned drama from Jafar Panahi's Offside to the works of Asghar Farhadi, especially the Oscar-winning A Separation. Soheil Beiraghi's compact, thought-provoking Permission (released elsewhere as Cold Sweat / Araghe Sard) is a distinguished addition to the field as it follows a woman boldly challenging a man's right to control her life.

Afrooz (Baran Kosari) has given her life to football. Now, she is about to captain Iran's national futsal team as they head to the final of the Asian Nations Cup in Malaysia. That is when her estranged husband Yaser (Amir Jadidi) exercises his legal right and refuses her permission to leave the country.

Permission is based on true events and initially feels as if it very clearly delineates the roles of hero and villain. There is little sense of compassion in Yaser's actions. He is spiteful, malicious with a streak of cruelty encouraged by the knowledge that the law will always be on his side. He almost relishes his actions, at one point tearing up an agreement that he has just signed.

Afrooz has right on her side and you can only cheer her on as she tries every trick in the book to convince Yaser of the justice of her cause. Begging, flattering and denouncing him on the internet feel like the actions of a desperate woman.

Having drawn the lines of this conflict, Beiraghi then conveys a more complex sense of the emotional stakes at play. Afrooz's sporting career at this level will be short-lived, adding to the urgency of her cause. Yaser's pride and sense of self is diminished by the man he sees reflected back in his wife's eyes. An understanding of that human element adds to the impact of an involving, crusading drama.

Limited release from Fri 22 Nov.

Permission

  • 4 stars
  • 2018
  • Iran
  • 12
  • Directed by: Soheil Beiraghi
  • Cast: Baran Kasari, Amir Jadidi, Leili Rashidi
  • UK release: 22 November 2019

Afrooz (Kosari) is about to captain Iran’s national futsal team in Malaysia when her estranged husband Yaser (Jadidi) exercises his right to refuse her permission to leave the country. Based on a true story; Beiraghi conveys a sense of the emotional stakes, and it adds to the impact of an involving, crusading drama.

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