The second feature from director Mohammad Rasoulof, Iron Island,
is set almost entirely on an abandoned oil tanker moored in the Persian
Gulf. The residents are outcasts in Iranian society, the Bandari --
who are an Arab minority that are predominantly Sunni Muslims.
Leading them like a modern day Noah (or perhaps even Moses) is
Captain Nemat (portrayed by noted Iranian actor Ali Nasirian.)
Many of the residents are poor and rely on the Captain for pretty
much everything. He oversees the ship like a benevolent dictator, doling
out credit for needed items, overseeing the stripping of the ship for raw
materials that can be sold (whether it be oil from the hold or metal from
the skeleton). Nemat has taken a young orphan Ahmad (Hossein
Farzi-Zadeh) under his wing, but as with any archetypal story the two
must clash. In this case, it is over a young woman with whom Ahmad
has entered into a clandestine relationship. The problem is that Nemat
has arranged her marriage to a wealthy older man. Eventually, Ahmad
rebels and attempts to escape from this floating city, but he is caught
and must face Nemat who metes out a cruel justice because, in his
mind, otherwise there would be chaos.
Nemat also faces more immediate problems that are twofold: the
ship is slowly sinking, and more pressingly, the owners have decided
to scrap the vessel forcing the relocation of all the "tenants."
Rasoulof has created a remarkable allegory, although there are
moments that do drag. But there are also more memorable scenes.
IRON ISLAND is as much about the indomitable human spirit and
one leaves it feeling hopeful despite the multitude of problems the
characters have encountered.
Running time: 90 mins
Viewed at New Directors/New Films
|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.