Taxi review: This twisted film set in Tehran is entirely shot in one cab
A movie entirely shot in a Taxi, seen from the perspective of a security camera is director Jafar Panahi’s latest stint after his house arrest in 2010.
This Is Not A Film was his first after the house arrest and Closed Curtain the second. Taxi follows suite, as he exits his confinement, only to tell us a story via another closed medium, the Taxi.
Shot by a “security camera” (as he exclaims in a dialogue) with a very well done sound design and simplistic pans, Taxi is accompanied with long dialogues; it won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. What’s beautiful is the amount of subtext that makes you admire the filmmaker even more. He has only made the portrayal of space work in his favor via the use of the security camera.
The film opens with the quite street of Tehran staring at you, seen from the windshield of a taxi. The passengers or characters (it tough to tell how the impeccable timing of the dialogues and situations align) only get interesting as the film progresses.
The ride begins with a burglar who calls himself a freelancer and a teacher who argue whether tire thieves should be hanged. It gets even more interesting when a short but stout DVD bootlegger hops in and identifies Panahi.
A director who’s under house arrest talks to a person who pirates movies and makes a living out of it. What adds to the quirk is that Omid, the DVD bootlegger calls Mr. Panahi his partner while doing business. Panahi makes his first and strong comment on first time filmmakers looking for inspiration, here.
The movie only gets twisted via dialogue as different people, from different walks of life come and go. Hana, Jafar Panahi’s niece (who plays herself) then accompanies him, as she is trying to make a movie of her own. Her being a filmmaker is quite the joke since almost everybody who’s embarked on this journey happens to be someone who makes movies, while the director is under a house arrest.
The last passenger is like a floating angel in the journey. A lawyer and an old friend of Panahi’s, she's a victim of the system. What she says accompanied with the film’s closing sequence then serve as Panahi’s message to the audiences.
Taxi is not a movie that’s high on style, neither does it have path breaking performances; what it does have however, is document the bitter truth’s of the lives, works and experiences of the people who embark on the journey with the film maker.
Jafar Panahi has been banned from making movies for 20 years or conversing with the media and giving interviews. He is also, not to leave the country during that period. Yet, the genius has made his third (and equally intriguing) movie since. All this when he can be arrested by the government, at any given point. No mean feat that.