Set in a Tehran apartment, where the action unspools in real time, Nima Javidi’s unnerving debut invites audiences to speculate what they might do in the characters’ shoes.

Javidi demonstrates enormous potential, judging by a feature that makes such strong use of its script and characters Amir (A Separation’s Peyman Moaadi) and Sara (Negar Javaherian). The opening focuses on an apartment whose residents are trying to juggle the last details before a major life change. Characters come and go, including a young woman who fusses with a baby sleeping in the bedroom. Suddenly, things change: Amir goes into the bedroom where the baby is sleeping and discovers that Tina isn’t breathing. Was Tina delivered to them that way? Or could it  be that the infant expired under their supervision, leaving them responsible?

Javidi has lit upon a universal and thoroughly engrossing premise, carrying it off through meticulous staging and top-notch acting to deliver a debut that should command attention from Iran to Australia and everywhere in between.

Peter Debruge


Please note that the festival is over 18s only