Day #33, March 4th, 2016.

Quote from Taxi (2015).

Every film that Jafar Panahi makes is an act of revolution. Put under house arrest by the Iranian government, he has been banned from making movies for twenty years since 2010. But that, of course, hasn’t stopped him.

This is his third film after that ban. The movie has no credits. How it was edited and smuggled illegally out of Tehran, no one knows. And yet, it is an accomplished work of crystalline, bare-bones cinematic genius: shot on fixed cameras on the dashboard of a taxi that Panahi himself drives.

The passengers he picks up offer up slices of irrevocable humanity. The quietly, angrily powerful critique of the social, economic and moralistic misgivings of his country seems to be veiled so thinly behind the director’s monklike smile. My heart stands still even thinking about the repercussions this film might have had on Panahi, but that is precisely the point of Taxi.

In this devastating scene, Panahi’s adorable and sharp-as-a-needle niece asks a garbage boy to return the money he picked up from the floor to the guy who dropped it. “Please,” she insists, “for sacrifice and selflessness.” 

The door of the taxi separates them, and the film pushes us to wonder where the real boundaries between these two people seem to occur. 

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