Review: Fireworks Wednesday (Farhadi, 2006)

Still from the movie Fireworks Wednesday

I’ve already mentioned the Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi twice on this blog; he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite directors. Fireworks Wednesday is the earliest movie of his I’ve seen to date. As a writer, his dialogue is brilliant. It’s difficult to depict an argument’s verbal torrent without the scenes beginning to feel overblown (as they do in Revolutionary Road or Closer, other dialogue-heavy movies), yet Farhadi’s always maintain their authenticity. As a director, he commands superb performances by his cast. That Farhadi’s pictures always stay cinematic, never venturing into that territory of play-as-film, is a credit to the subtleties of emotion that pass over his actor’s faces. Never is a false note struck, never a misplaced word or look.

In Fireworks Wednesday, young bride-to-be Roohi (played by acclaimed actress Taraneh Alidoosti) works for a cleaning agency and is sent by her employer to an upperclass household for a job. She finds the apartment in disarray and the man of the house Morteza (Hamid Farokhnezhad) distracted and angry. When his frantic wife Mozhde (Hediyeh Tehrani) returns, the tension only escalates, and Roohi soon becomes embroiled in the couple’s turmoil and schemes. Roohi reveals herself to be both mischievous and innocent, a creative but inexpert liar, ill-prepared for the serious consequences of her meddling.

Though less complex and fully developed than the two films he is more known for (About Elly and A Separation), one can detect the already-masterful beginnings of Farhadi’s later sophistication. His characters are all so fully themselves, so utterly genuine. And if one has ever been exposed to the type of heightened, screamed emotions that pervade the conflicts of certain families, one cannot help looking upon the shouting matches in his scenes with dismayed delight. (Or delighted dismay? Or just tears.) I’ve come to believe that Farhadi’s style will be as distinctive and inimitable as Pedro Almodóvar‘s (although perhaps more consistent and less deliciously bizarre). If you already like this Iranian director, or if you trust my recommendation, don’t miss out on Fireworks Wednesday.

Note: The title Fireworks Wednesday refers to the fire festival celebrated every Persian New Year. Tragically, during the shooting of this film, Alidoosti’s younger brother died in an explosion during one of these festivals. I can’t imagine what it must be like for her to re-watch this film (if she ever does) as scenes of firecrackers and explosions are prominent, especially in the movie’s latter half.

There is no trailer available, but a short clip from the film’s introductory scenes can be viewed below: