Is it fair to presume that with Justin Lin directing I’m going to hate Star Trek Beyond (Paramount, 7.22)? I think that’s a reasonable expectation. The Fast and Furious aesthetic applied to whooshing around in space and the adventures of Kirk, Spock, Bones, Chekhov and the gang? Uhm…no, thanks. Even with Idris “paycheck” Elba playing the baddie-waddie.
I flew out of Nice this morning around 11:25 am, and arrived at Prague’s Vaclav Havel airport 85 or 90 minutes later. The Prague pad (U Obecniho dvora 793/2) is great but the wifi was completely non-existent. It took two or three hours of texting the Airbnb rental managers to convince them that the fault wasn’t with me but with a bad password. It took another two or three hours to find some kind of solution –a dinky little mobile wifi device that a tech guy bought around dinner hour. The signal it’s currently generating is laughable. Around 4 pm I went down to a bar next door to use their wifi, but is it was filled with soccer fans watching a game — couldn’t concentrate. It’s just been a shitty day, and for all the trouble I managed to post exactly one piece (i.e., the Salesman review).
Emad, a 30something Tehran school teacher (Shahab Hosseini), is playing Willy Loman in a stage production of Arthur Miller‘s Death of a Salesman, and his wife Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) is playing Linda, Willy’s wife. An intriguing endeavor but the play, we soon learn, isn’t central to their story. Forced by structural problems to vacate their apartment building, the couple has moved into another place, a bit raggedy but reasonably spacious, that a friend has referred them to. The wrinkle is that it was recently vacated by a prostitute or, as locals describe her, “a woman with many male companions.” But things are otherwise okay. Emad and Rana are happy (they’re thinking about having a child), Emad enjoys his teaching job, the play is selling tickets, etc.
One day while Emad is out and Rana is about to take a shower, the front-door alarm sounds and Rana, presuming it’s Emad, pushes the buzzer. But it’s someone else — a client of the prostitute. We’re not shown what happens next, but Emad returns to signs of a struggle and blood stains on the floor. Rana has been taken to a hospital, he’s told. She’s okay but has suffered a head wound that requires stitches. She’s been assaulted but not raped.
The attack is bad enough, but from Eman’s perspective there’s another problem. Rana, traumatized and emotionally numb, is reluctant to share details about what precisely happened. At first she says she didn’t see her attacker’s face, but later she indicates that she did catch a glimpse. And then Emad finds someone’s cell phone and a set of keys in the apartment, and also a wad of cash. On top of which a pickup truck, apparently belonging to the attacker, is parked outside, and the keys Eman has found fit the door lock and the ignition.
Bit by bit, Eman becomes more and more anxious about Rana’s reluctance to tell the full tale, and he soon develops a notion that she might be harboring a secret of some kind. He doesn’t suspect her of infidelity but something about the attack doesn’t smell right, and he starts scowling and wondering what the fuck. He and Rana decide not to tell the police because there’s a slight stigma of shame that has rubbed off on Rana (Iran’s patriarchal notions about women make Donald Trump sound like Gloria Steinem), but Eman decides he’s going to find the culprit and give him what for.
And yet it’s all bottled up on both sides. Eman and Rana don’t really talk, but they bicker and give each other looks. And Eman continues to seethe. It all finally leads to a confrontation that doesn’t go well. I’m being deliberately vague.