By Deborah Young Variety
An attractive young married couple with money to burn snipe at each other, destroy the house, run each other off the road and nearly divorce before they solve their problems in a psychiatrist's office. It sounds like an Iranian "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," only instead of being hired assassins, the warring protags in "Cease Fire" are an architect and an engineer. Audiences hooked on Persian mainstream will devour this irreverent romantic comedy, spiced with saucy dialogue that spoofs traditional gender roles through gritted teeth. Abroad, homevid should be close behind specialized theatrical.
Such frothy fare, almost a date movie, is an anomaly on the Iranian scene. But director Tahmineh Milani, known for feminist melodramas like "Two Women" and "The Fifth Reaction," puts a pointed message below the fun. As much sociologist as filmmaker, Milani's professed intent is to educate her countrymen about modern marriage, and to change male attitudes about wives with careers.
Charming newcomer Mahnaz Afshar, who has worked as a film editor, plays Sayeh, an firebrand project engineer married to spoiled contractor Yousef (hunky, long-haired star Mohammad Reza Golzar).
Stumbling into the office of a psychiatrist (Attila Pesyani) instead of a divorce lawyer by mistake, Sayeh recounts the trials and tribulations of her marriage. Sayeh is happy to play hard ball with Yousef's raging jealousy, responding "tit for tat" to his every material and psychological slight. Film's thesis is that both Sayeh and Yousef are acting out their "inner child" when they hurl glassware at each other and cut the other's clothing to shreds.
Producer and production designer Mohammad Nikbin, who is also an architect, creates a lime green fantasy background for the battle of the sexes, which plays out against Naser Cheshm Azar's bright and bubbly score.
Originally Published February 13, 2006
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