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Journey of the Grey Men.

(IRAN-JAPAN)

A Hylaj Co./NHK Media Development Dept. production. (International sales: Behnegar, Tehran.) Produced by Alireza Shoja Noori, Ueda Makoto.

Directed, written by Amir Shahab Razavian. Camera (color), Mohammad Reza Sharifi; editor, Kiamoosh Ayari. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (competing), Jan. 25, 2003. Original title: Safar-e mardan-e khahestari. Farsi dialogue. Running time: 105 MIN.

With: Reza Sheikh Abroad Khamesh, Ahmad Bigdeli, Ali Shahsavan, Seyed Mirza Rezavian, Rebe'eh Madani.

A simple, sincere Iranian film about three aged puppeteers, "Journey of the Grey Men" is a mellow road movie with no axes to grind and no envelopes to push. In his first feature, experienced documaker Amir Shahab Razavian turns a loving, amused eye on his three hoary protags who discover you can't go home again. Japanese co-production participation can be intuited in the scenic landscapes through which they travel, filling the screen with Iran's spectacular deserts, mountains and forests. Fests and pubcasters should be the main takers.

Piling into an ancient Chevy station wagon, a trio of oldsters sets out from Tehran to make a 1,000-mile trip to their hometown of Birjand, a remote place in the Iranian desert, where they're planning a farewell performance. Interwoven with a journey spurred by nostalgic memories are their personal stories about lost love and chain-smoking. En route the non-pro actors, who are accomplished folk musicians, do a lot of talking and occasionally perform with their puppets for children. Razavian's obligatory bow to the Iranian craze for injecting the real-life film crew into the fictional story could easily have been avoided.

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Author:Young, Deborah
Publication:Variety
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Mar 17, 2003
Words:256
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