Iran may just be on the greatest cinema-based hot streak this year with their current release schedule of their critically acclaimed international exports. The Middle-Eastern country has delivered countless of delightful flicks this year, ranging from the Sundance winning Yalda: A Night of Forgiveness and even the TIFF-selected Bandar Band. However, I’ve only encountered one major dud in my recent Iranian-cinema binge. Mind you, unlike other films as of recently that lack a certain creative gusto, this film does at the very least attempt to comment on the repetitive cycles of terrorism and the collision between modern art and trauma. On the other hand, my main issue with Shahram Mokri’s Careless Crime is how smug the film presents its ideas, with a pretentious topping of pseudo-intellectualism.
Ironically enough, the film is rather careless in its symbolic pursuit. Instead of dissecting the route of the crime, the film instead relies upon a strenuous amount of repetition and jarring recurring motifs. The film specifically routes back to the concept of a careless event, as seen earlier on in the film with a clip from The Crime of Carelessness (1912). The languid long takes and the restless atmosphere emulate a slight feeling of deja vu — a repeating theme that comments on art imitating history and vice-versa. The issue with these concepts is that the film is essentially motive-less. Relying heavily upon methodical repetition of what’s essentially the same scene repeated over and over again, the setup and direction of Careless Crime unfortunately sacrifices clarity for needless ambiguity and narrative unpredictability. Sometimes intriguing concepts don’t necessarily correlate with great storytelling; though there’s some talent beneath the rubble of cinematic decay that can still be salvaged for future projects of a similar wavelength. Kudos to Mokri and Co for at the very least challenging the viewer, rather than simply stating the obvious; a rare feat in our continuously censored entertainment environments.
Careless Crime screened at this year’s 56th Chicago International Film Festival as part of the international competition program.