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04.30.08

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Phaedra

Fireworks Wednesday

One disc; Facets Video; $29.95

By Richard von Busack


A common film story concerns a rural girl who comes to town and knits up a raveled family, using her countrified common sense. Happily, Fireworks Wednesday (2006) by Asghar Farhadi isn't one of those stories. Hired to clean house in a Tehran high-rise apartment, the fresh-faced villager Roohi (Taraneh Alidousti) arrives and finds an emotional as well as physical mess. The affluent couple who live there are about to head out on holiday vacation, but they have been fighting. The subject of the fight is the smoldering single woman down the hall (Pantea Bahram). Becoming a pawn in both sides of this domestic quarrel, Roohi wisely takes what advantage she can. The director keeps the balance between this feuding couple, so that the did-he-or-didn't-he question becomes a genuine mystery. And Roohi's ride home with a man she can't trust, through a city ablaze with fireworks, is the stuff of a suspense movie. Farhadi's critique of male privilege and hypocrisy in Iran is anything but between the lines. Fireworks Wednesday is slightly long for an Iranian movie, but it's as incisive as the best of them.


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