Rafa (2022) by Mehdi Ghazanfari

As we mentioned several times before, here at AMP we receive dozens of ‘quarantine films’, productions that were filmed during the lockdown or at least taking into account the restrictions that the pandemic imposed on us all. After a point, most of them start to look annoyingly similar, either like intricate zoomed-in videos or, at times, like someone picking up a phone inside her apartment and filming whatever they could. Therefore, it is surprising to see that films of this style are still being produced, and even more so, that they could deviate quite a bit from the norm, and in the case of “Rafa”, even from the norms of Iranian cinema. cinema.

The review of “Rafa” is part of the Submit Your Film initiative

Rafa is a young woman who seems to be confined to a room, caring for a bedridden old man, while she is trained in singing and prepares for an interview that will allow her to leave Iran, to another country where women can sing. The only communication she has is with the man’s daughter, Sara, who frequently calls her on the phone asking her to point the device at her father, and a young man who brings the two of them groceries, and also seems to know her from her past. like a professional photographer. As time passes, we learn of Sara’s complicated past due to her father’s ways, a man named Farshid Dabagh becomes part of the story, while the reasons for her stay in that secluded room are revealed to be much more complicated. than anyone thought.

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Mehdi Ghazanafari directs a quarantine film (directed that way mainly due to the unique location and the presence of only 2-3 people at most in the same space) that thrives on its atmosphere, particularly as the repetitive program that Rafa follows is embedded with a strain. which stems from a constant feeling that something is wrong. Ghazanafari teases his audience about what exactly it is, presenting glimpses into Rafa’s past and his intentions for the future, carefully revealing what’s going on, essentially hinting at plot twists in the most intriguing way.

Reza Ghazanfari’s editing is what helps the most in this regard, both in the succession of scenes, and especially in the inclusion of non-repetitive scenes that show that the story is moving somewhere, and the slow pace that adapts perfectly. in the particular style of the director. . The repetition of routines, such as heating milk, preparing meals and talking on the phone, combined with the black and white photography of Ghazanfari himself is sometimes reminiscent of Darren Aronofsky’s “P”, although not with the same tension, in a style which definitely benefits the main premises of the film.

At the same time, Ghazanfari manages to make a number of comments about the place of women in Iranian society, Sharia law and human nature, especially how people find new ways to exploit others.

Faezeh Yosefi gives an excellent performance, highlighting his complex situation, through a laconic but quite eloquent style, with his expressive eyes working wonders in that regard.

On the other hand, even at 86 minutes, the movie lags a bit late in the middle, with the twists coming a bit late, to the point where, albeit briefly, it all gets a bit boring, though not in a grade for It hurts sense that all title leaves significantly.

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Mehdi Ghazanfari has implemented the overall minimalism of “Rafa” ideally, resulting in one of the best quarantine movies we’ve ever seen.

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