Combustible Celluloid
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With: Pantea Panahiha, Hasan Majuni, Rayan Sarlak, Amin Simiar
Written by: Panah Panahi
Directed by: Panah Panahi
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Persian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 93
Date: 04/22/2022

Hit the Road (2022)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Accused Cars

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed by Panah Panahi, the son of Iranian master Jafar Panahi, Hit the Road — viewed as part of the 65th SF Film Festival — is at once familiar and new. It uses the road movie (a favorite of both the elder Panahi as well as the late Abbas Kiarostami, who mentored the younger Panahi) as its motif, but its blasts of dark humor and touches of troubling mystery suggest a fearless filmmaker already in control of his voice. It centers on a family of four: a wise, worried mother (Pantea Panahiha), a lazy father (Hasan Majuni), leg in a four-month old cast, an adorable hurricane of a small boy (Rayan Sarlak), whose first words are "we're dead!", and the older brother (Amin Simiar), who is the reason for this trip, out of Tehran and toward the Turkish border. He's in some kind of trouble, and the family has made some huge sacrifice to protect him, but Panahi never clarifies exactly what this is. Not that it matters, however, given that it's the general feeling (surely inspired by the elder Panahi's 2010 arrest and 20-year band on filmmaking) that's most important. A merry-go-round of emotions whiz by as characters use gallows humor to avoid thinking about their situation, or else facing it with heart-wrenching courage, and even simply drifting off into space.

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