Taboor: Dubai Review

Admirably directed and painstakingly lensed, but this surreal enigma is monotonously plotless

An experimental film from young Iranian director Vahid Vakilifar tries to separate a man from the toxic environment around him.

Time stands still in this experimental feature from Iran, and many viewers may find watching steak frying in real time is not the most exciting way to spend an evening. The rather mystifying story follows a silver-haired man in a protective jumpsuit around from house to house as he exterminates cockroaches. Young filmmakerVahid Vakilifar, whose debut film Gesher won kudos on the festival circuit, will have a more difficult time with this head-scratcher, a performance piece that might have worked better on stage. Still, the refined cinematography lends it a David Lynch-like touch of the surreal that make the visuals tell much of the story. No dialogue is used, only a bit of voice-over.

The man’s attempt to separate himself from the toxic environment that surrounds him could be existential metaphor or political allegory. That’s left to the audience to decide, but in any case it doesn’t seem like the kind of film that will find easy release domestically. The stone-faced hero of the tale, played by a dignified Mohammad Rabbanipour in a long white beard, is afflicted by hyper-sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation. He’s forced to live in a bunker lined in tin foil and wears a kind of shiny silver space suit under his work clothes. His lonely, solitary existence is punctuated by after-dark trips to customers’ homes. In a series of unrelated, increasingly dreamlike scenes, he rides his motorbike through a deserted, nighttime Tehran and lumbers robotically into a luxuriously appointed apartment, where he is shot at; the owner, a midget, then tends his wounds.  Nothing that happens makes much sense, nor does it seem intended to: atmosphere is all here.

An interesting modern mood is created through Mohammad Reza Jahanpanah’s accomplished painterly cinematography and the ever-present background sounds invented by foley artist Hossein Mahdevi. Keyhan Kalhor’s modern score is noteworthy, too.


Venue: Dubai Film Festival, Dec. 13, 2012

Cast:  Mohammad Rabbanipour

Director:  Vahid Vakilifar
Screenwriter:  Vahid Vakilifar
Producer: Vahid Vakilifar  
Co-producer: Fariba Rostami  
Director of photography:  Mohammad Reza Jahanpanah
Production designer/costumes:   Saeid Assadi
Music:  Keyhan Kalhor
Foley artist: Hossein Mahdavi
Editor:  Vahid Vakilifar
Sales: DreamLab Films
No rating, 84 minutes.