TALKING WITH A SHADOW (Khosrow Sinai) Rating: NN
Talking With A Shadow is, unfortunately, a clumsy film.
Screening at Tirgan, a showcase for the diversity of art and culture coming out of Iran, it follows the investigations of an archaeological researcher, a literature teacher and a film critic into the life and work of Sadegh Hedayat. Hedayat was an eminent Modernist Irani writer whose controversial prose was heavily influenced by Western culture while it critically engaged with his country’s history and politics.
The team leafs through postcards and novels and travels to locales that had an impact on the mysterious writer’s life. Unfortunately, most of Hedayat’s old Tehran haunts have disappeared, the fading memories from Hedayat’s work all that remain of them.
The lighting employed by the filmmakers pays tribute to Hedayat’s fascination with shadows, which feature prominently in his writing and his love of expressionist cinema, and a hokey framing plot involves Hedayat’s ghostly shadow haunting the investigators. Such romanticism feels inconsistent with a film that reads like a serious-minded literary essay; at one point a character actually says “e.g.”
While Hedayat is certainly a provocative subject, I’d rather discover him in something more self-assured and straightforward than this talky shadow of a film. Subtitled.
Screens Saturday (July 19) at Harbourfront Centre’s Studio Theatre as part of Tirgan: Iranian Festival.