Women Without Men (Zanan-e bedun-e mardan) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Women Without Men (Zanan-e bedun-e mardan) Reviews

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½ December 17, 2010
Unlike anything I've ever seen before, Women Without Men is a daring film of jaw dropping beauty, but sadly lacks the narrative force required to make one see anything beyond the beautiful images that saturate the screen.

In Women Without Men debut director Shirin Neshat cleverly uses her photographic roots to exquisite effect. Viewers will undoubtedly notice the stunning art she creates on the screen, as the four leading actresses are framed in an almost melancholy beauty that represents their struggle as women during the turbulent 1950s in Iran. As such the film has a strong political context and successfully recreates an era in Iranian history that is often overlooked in favour of the even more troubled years that followed.

However this is not your standard political drama. Neshat's preference to depict the film entirely through female eyes sets it apart immediately. Each woman has her own story, from the depressed wife of a military official to an anorexic prostitute, however almost predictably these women share a bond of having been mistreated in some way by men. Thus the women find solace and companionship in a beautiful orchard and the film, steeped in rich cinematic beauty, develops from there.

Unfortunately while the premise appears promising, Neshat's inexperience as a director is quickly exposed as the story crawls at a ridiculously slow pace. Time spent on lingering photographic shots and extended periods without dialogue have replaced scenes that could have fleshed out these sparse characters and given the audience women they could perhaps relate to, or at least care about. Regrettably none of the characters, though each well played, managed to spark much of a reaction in me, proving a major flaw in giving any weight to the drama on show.

Furthermore there are a number of moments where the film experiments with the supernatural; a risky move that leads primarily to confusion. While I eventually picked up the gist of what was happening in these scenes, Neshat does not make it easy for her audience to follow such events, and unless you embark on this film with a lot of patience and a certain level of intellect, then you may find it a rather restless 90 minutes.

Thus while visually brilliant and politically resonant, Women Without Men's accomplishments are marred by an underdeveloped plot and unfortunately thin characters.
½ November 16, 2010
Beautifully crafted piece of art. There are plot holes, but since everything is like a dream so it's forgiven. But I find it hard to stay awake throughout the film. Maybe the story is not engaging enough.
½ September 20, 2010
Mystillisyyteen asti runollinen naiskuvaus 50-luvun Iranista.
Super Reviewer
August 17, 2010
**humph** Harrassing, torturing and killing in the name of God.
Super Reviewer
½ August 15, 2010
a interesting drama set in iran during a turbelant time during the 50s, and four womens lives looked at, and how the four are connected through a location they all find in some way, well told in parts and the setting set during the days of the shaw, and there dispute with the british goverment blockadeing there oil, fits well together and adds to the lives of the charactors, also good at showing how iran is male dominated, and women not having the rights others do
½ July 23, 2010
Beautiful photography, very strong pictures and acting and very cryptic message about liberty
½ July 23, 2010
Women w/out Men has moments of heartbreaking lyricism, both visual and written, but around halfway through I couldn't help but become disinterested in its narrating character, Munis. I found her disappointingly undercharacterized compared to her side-story counterparts, at one point becoming more of a tool to illustrate the historical context of the film than anything else. The film found its strength during the more intimate, painfully personal moments with its female leads, which resonate in a piercing and timeless way.
Super Reviewer
½ July 16, 2010
1953 Iran is like the present day Iran in some areas, as women have to live by prescribed roles in both times. For example, Zarin(Orsolya Toth) is a prostitute. Fakhri(Arita Shahrzad) is nearing fifty and encounters Abbas(Bijan Daneshmand), an ex-flame, just as her husband(Tahmoures Tehrani), a general, is threatening to marry a younger woman. It is Munis(Shabnam Toloui) who sees the possibility for a better future as she listens to news reports on the radio about the protests that are happening just outside her door but is forbidden from attending by her brother Amir Khan(Essa Zahir) who is angry at her for not being married at the ripe old age of thirty, as her friend Faezeh(Pegah Ferydoni) commiserates with her.

"Women without Men" gets off to a slow start but gains steam and a visual flair once it not only escapes from its social realist origins to tell its story from a magic realism angle, but also as the female characters are escaping from their roles. Zarin runs away from the brothel to the country while Fakhri herself runs away and buys an orchard. Munis' escape is the most drastic but it is also not the end of her story, as rebirth in both a literal and a symbolic sense is a major theme of the movie as Iran is born again in a revolution(I love that a Communist is portrayed in a positive light), just not one with a happy ending this time around for the country.

(Originally reviewed May 16, 2010)
½ July 6, 2010
The images are breathtakingly beautiful. The story delivers a strong spirit of feminism. The background has a significant historical meaning. Neshat's award-winning film debut shows her talented artistic point of view. But if only the structure could be tighter.
July 5, 2010
very engaging and disturbing at times.
June 26, 2010
A Hauntingly beautiful allegory of women's fate.
Symbolism and pure, stylish photography offer an interesting and unique vision of intimate life stories amidst a more historical background.
Slow, contemplative film, though, so only for hardcore cinephiles or those interested in Iranian American Shirin Neshat's personal artwork/artworld.
June 13, 2010
Unfortunately, I may have to wait for the DVD.
June 5, 2010
The casting of Toth perhaps sets up expectations of grim realism, yet her anti-Scheherazade - the courtesan who would makes any sane man run a thousand miles in the opposite direction - signals Neshat's desire to subvert the standard "Arabian Nights" framework, with its male-oriented and male-controlled storytelling. Though fantasy elements are still in place - the misty glades and stagnant swamps could be straight out of a fairytale, as is the unexplained revival of characters long thought dead - but there's no sign of a happy ending, that love might just conquer all... Too widescreen to be left to languish unwatched in installation spaces, yet not entirely satisfactory as cinema, it turns what would have been a provocative encounter in a gallery into a fairly glum night out at the Curzon Mayfair. When Fakhri (Shahrzad), the middle-aged wife of an army general, is inducted into a wonderland of her own - a secret society of "decadent" poets, playwrights and actresses - we can be pretty certain it won't be long before hubby and his troops come knocking at the door. Visual and narrative pleasure in "Women Without Men" always come to be turned against themselves; for all its stunning imagemaking, it remains a pointed text, a prepared statement, more than it is a fully-realised, multi-dimensional picture.
½ May 27, 2010
The story of four Iranian women during the 1953 coup. All these women are abused by the men in their lives in different ways. They find peace in a magical beautiful garden that the general's wife sets.
May 1, 2010
Mrs. Neshat is a great photographer who basically do not know anything about cinema. While each plan of the movie was so well made that you could frame it and put it on the wall, the acting was a disaster to the point that the audience would be distracted from the movie! the only exception was Shabnam Toloui.
April 25, 2010
I cannot belive navid akhavan from navid mid is in this movie
April 18, 2010
The stories of these four Iranian women are interesting and heartbreaking, but the question of fantasy and reality took me away from the story.
Super Reviewer
½ April 8, 2010
Haunting, beautifully shot tale of four Iranian women during the 1953 coup, each abused by the men in their lives in different ways, who find peace and refuge in a lush orchard far from the turmoil. Some of the stories work better than others, but director Shirin Neshat conjures a powerful mood, even if it falls just short of compelling.
April 8, 2010
Couldn't wait for it to be over. Really corny...
April 8, 2010
please watch out!! The movie is educative.
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