Iron Island (Mohammad Rasoulof) 73 - Even though it’s set in a locale that would make Werner Herzog envious, Iron Island has more going for it than its setting. Following a group of Iranian squatters that have taken residence aboard an abandoned oil tanker, the movie examines the fascinating community that has been established and chronicles the end of their distinct way of life. Lorded over by Captain Nemat, an unforgettable personality who has dictatorial power over his minions (many who are presented in a way that maximizes the movie’s symbolic impact), the ship is filled with displaced individuals who give him total control. It’s not a sustainable way of life, though, as the ship is not only sinking, but has also been sold to a company that plans to turn it into scrap metal.
I haven’t seen Rasoulof’s debut feature, but this seems the emergence of an exciting new figure in Iranian cinema. Paced with none of the longueurs that usually dominate the country’s movies, it is as approachable a film as the country has produced. The love story had me worrying at the start, but it and the main plot dovetail in the film’s final reel, making a powerful statement about the constraints of society. This is a one-of-a-kind film, as fascinating in its execution as it sounds in concept.